We're using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you're agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more

What is the impact?

Percentage of people experiencing pain infographicQuality of life

Musculoskeletal conditions such as low back pain are the top causes of years that people live with disability.

In 2016, 23.3% of years lived with disability were attributable to musculoskeletal conditions in the UK.

Over half (52.4%) of all working age (16-64 years) disabled people in the UK experience musculoskeletal conditions.

The pain and disability caused by arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions result in a substantial loss in quality of life.


Working days lost infographic

Musculoskeletal conditions are a leading cause of sickness absence. 30.8 million working days were lost in 2016, accounting for 22.4% of total sickness absence.

People with musculoskeletal conditions are less likely to be in work than people without health conditions, and more likely to retire early.

63% of working age adults with a musculoskeletal condition are in work compared to 81% of people with no health conditions.

Health and care services

GP consultation infographicMusculoskeletal conditions are largely managed in primary and community based care, however services are accessed across all levels of care.

One in five people (20%) consult a GP about a musculoskeletal problem every year.

Musculoskeletal problems are addressed in one in eight (12%) GP appointments.

1.36 million admissions to consultant care were due to musculoskeletal conditions in England in 2016-17, resulting in 2.27 million bed days. That’s 8.2% of all admissions to consultant care.


Annual cost infographic

Musculoskeletal conditions account for the third largest area of NHS programme spending at £4.7 billion in 2013-14.64.

Treating the two most common forms of arthritis-osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis-is estimated to cost the economy £10.2 billion in direct costs to the NHS and wider healthcare system this year.

Conditions such as back pain account for around 40% of all sickness absence in the NHS and costs around £400 million per year.

Note-references and data sources for the statistics above are included in the full report.

We're now

Versus Arthritis.

You're being taken through to our new website in order to finish your donation.

Thank you for your generosity.

For more information, go to
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.