Introducing the Musculoskeletal Calculator online prevalence mapping tool

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Sophia Steinberger, Health Intelligence Analyst

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions affect all aspects of everyday life, limiting what people can do and their ability to be independent. These conditions are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and disability, and considered a leading cause of long-standing illness in Scotland.

Poor MSK health often goes hand in hand with other indicators of morbidity such as obesity and mental health issues. The prevalence of MSK conditions is expected to continue to increase both due to our ageing population and rising levels of obesity and physical inactivity.

Data on the local burden of MSK conditions in Scotland were previously either lacking or not readily available. To change this, Arthritis Research UK partnered with Imperial College London to develop the Musculoskeletal Calculator a statistical modelling tool for estimating the prevalence of several MSK conditions.

The new Musculoskeletal Calculator online prevalence mapping tool is a major step in providing these local MSK prevalence estimates in a simply accessible way.

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 The new online mapping tool, developed by e3, includes prevalence estimates for:

  • osteoarthritis (hip/knee)
  • back pain, and
  • rheumatoid arthritis.

Estimates are available for England and Scotland at local authority (LA), Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or Health Board level.

 The tool allows you to search, compare, and download data.

  • Search: search for location by postcode, local authority, CCG name, and town or by choosing directly from the map.
  • Compare: compare prevalence estimates for up to three areas
  • Download: ability to export estimates via pdf or csv.


Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 13.57.00High quality data such as estimates of the number of people with knee and hip osteoarthritis in Scotland are needed to facilitate local planning of services specifically around interventions that help tackle poor MSK health and reduce health inequalities. Tackling poor MSK health can in the long-term both improve individual health outcomes and reduce the costs to society.

Arthritis Research UK is constantly seeking to make sure that the needs of people with musculoskeletal conditions are considered when decisions are made about the healthcare system. We will be responding to the consultation on the Scottish Government’s proposed diet and obesity strategy (‘A Healthier Future’), to ensure recognition of the link between obesity and physical inactivity and musculoskeletal conditions. This includes the important role that AHPs play in supporting people with arthritis to become, and remain, physically active, as well as the need for appropriate data and metric tools, such as the MSK Calculator to inform joint strategic needs assessments, public health service planning and prioritisation for key interventions such as physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and balanced diet, and smoking cessation.



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