Skip main navigation

Living with Musculoskeletal and other long term conditions

Multi-morbidity refers to the experience of two or more long-term conditions and encompasses physical and mental health.
Woman from an ethnic background exercising with trainer.
© Versus Arthritis, MSK Conditions and Multi morbidity Report.pdf

Multi-morbidity refers to the experience of two or more long-term conditions and encompasses physical and mental health. Multi-morbidity is associated with a poorer quality of life, reduced health outcomes and higher mortality rates. Within multi-morbidity there can be different relationships between conditions. People may develop two long-term conditions independently of each other, for example a person having both osteoarthritis and asthma.

Sometimes, a health condition can increase the likelihood of developing another as in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) where there is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In other cases, one long-term condition exacerbates the impact of another – this is seen with painful conditions such as back pain which lead to, and are worsened by, depression. Finally, there are conditions which share causal factors, such as obesity which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis.

People are living longer but not necessarily in good health and increasingly most are living with more than one health condition. They are likely to be frequent users of health and care services, leading to increasing pressure on the economy and health capacity in the system.

Musculoskeletal conditions and multi-morbidity – in numbers:

• Among people over 45 years of age who report living with a major long-term condition, more than 3 out of 10 also have a musculoskeletal condition.

• By 65 years of age, most people have multi-morbidity. Over half of the number of people who live with multi-morbidity are under 65 years of age.

• Women have higher rates of multi-morbidity than men

• Four out of five people with osteoarthritis have at least one other long-term condition such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease or depression

© Versus Arthritis, MSK Conditions and Multi morbidity Report.pdf
This article is from the free online

Musculoskeletal Health: A Public Health Approach

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education