Musculoskeletal conditions

Musculoskeletal conditions

Musculoskeletal conditions (MSK) are a range of over 200 disorders which affect the joints, bones, muscles and soft tissues. While rarely fatal, they can be very debilitating and can have a significant social and economic impact on a person's life.


Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that the total number of cases of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2021/22 was 477,000, a prevalence rate of 1,430 per 100,000 workers and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 24% of all work-related ill health cases in Great Britain. Findings of the Labour Force Survey show that prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the rate of self-reported work-related musculoskeletal disorders showed a generally downward trend. The current rate is similar to the 2018/19 pre-coronavirus levels.

Key findings

  • In the Lancashire-12 area 20.5% of the population aged 16+ report a musculoskeletal condition (either long term back pain or long term joint pain), significantly higher than the England rate (17.6%) (2022).
  • Of the districts, Wyre (26.2%), Burnley, Rossendale, Pendle, Hyndburn, Fylde, South Ribble, Chorley, West Lancs are all significantly worse than England, only Preston is better (14.8%)
  • In Blackpool (26.1%) the proportion is also significantly higher than England whereas in Blackburn with Darwen it is similar (17.1%).
  • Looking at the percentage of people who are reporting at least two long-term conditions (where one is MSK), Lancashire-12 (15.3%) is significantly higher than England (12.8%). Blackpool (20.7%) is also significantly higher whilst Blackburn with Darwen (13.8%) is similar to England.
  • Figures from the 2021/22 Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) indicate that across the Lancashire-12 area there are 8,714 (0.8%) persons (aged 16+) with a confirmed diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. In Blackpool this number is 1,342 (0.9%) and in Blackburn with Darwen it is 1,081 (0.8%). 

MSK is an area that is considered to be under reported by the QOF disease registers, due to disparity between the recorded prevalence and prevalence estimates taken from research studies which can vary widely, with one such study suggesting that a fifth of the population (aged 16+) will consult a GP about an MSK related condition each year.

For further details, please see the Versus Arthritis musculoskeletal calculator and the 'State of musculoskeletal health 2021' report (PDF 1.5MB). 

For county and unitary data and further information please see below

Page updated June 2023