Musculoskeletal problems in children and young people

Musculoskeletal problems in children and young people

It is estimated that musculoskeletal problems affect 1 in 8 children and young people (CYP). Causes include trauma, orthopaedic, rheumatic and congenital conditions as well as the consequences of obesity.

Musculoskeletal ill health has huge impact on growth, development and psychosocial wellbeing with potential for lifelong consequences.

There are estimated to be over 40 million CYP around the world who are seriously overweight with including increased risk of serious ill health issues that include musculoskeletal problems.

Data indicates that at least 30% of CYP will sustain injury to their bones or joints; sports, play, and traffic accidents are the most common causes. A single knee injury early in life can increase the risk for osteoarthritis in adulthood five-fold and a hip injury could more than triple the risk.

Similarly, it is estimated that juvenile arthritis affects 1 in 1000 CYP equating to several million around the world and representing a considerable burden on their lives, the lives of their families and economic cost. Juvenile arthritis is also a leading cause of acquired disability including blindness due to eye inflammation.

There are many other musculoskeletal condition affecting CYP (such as adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, clubfoot), many of which are treatable but health system barriers often result in delay in diagnosis, or remain unrecognized or untreated with long term consequences.

The Paediatric Task force was established by the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health, in October 2017 in recognition of these issues for CYP.  The aim of the Task Force is to work with all stakeholders affected by CYP musculoskeletal disorders to address the challenges that are faced in the management of these conditions.

We believe that much more needs to be done to raise awareness about musculoskeletal conditions starting in early life, to improve access to the ‘right’ care at the ‘right time’ and to promote healthy joints and bones. Our efforts will be worthwhile with profound benefit to the life-course for many individuals and will optimise their contribution to society in adult life.

The Paediatric Task force Co-Chairs are:
Helen Foster
Professor Paediatric Rheumatology
Newcastle University and Honorary Consultant Great North Children’s Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


Stuart Weinstein
Ignacio V. Ponseti Chair and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, University Hospital, Iowa City, Iowa, USA

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