Musculoskeletal conditions affect the bones, muscles, joints, and connective tissues. Common types include various forms of arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, juvenile arthritis and gout), back problems and osteoporosis.
Australian Centre for Monitoring Population Health
Latest data and information on the health of Australians
Musculoskeletal conditions are highly prevalent and large contributors to illness, pain and disability. They are predominantly managed in primary health care settings by a range of health professionals. Treatment and management often involve a combination of medication (for pain and inflammation), physiotherapy, education on self-management (such as diet and exercise) and referral to specialist care as appropriate.
Musculoskeletal conditions routinely monitored by AIHW
Arthritis is an umbrella term for a wide range of inflammatory conditions affecting the bones, muscles and joints. This often results in pain, stiffness, swelling and redness in affected joints.
Osteoarthritis is characterised by the breakdown of the cartilage that overlies the ends of bones in joints. It mostly affects joints in the hands, spine, hips, knees and ankles.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease causing chronic inflammation of the joints. It most commonly affects the hand joints and can lead to deformities of the hands.
Juvenile arthritis includes several kinds of arthritis occurring in children and adolescents. It can cause significant pain and disability, and interfere with school and other activities.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that develops when an excess of uric acid in the blood leads to deposits of uric acid crystals in one or more joints.
‘Back problems’ describes a range of conditions related to the bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles and nerves of the back, including the neck, upper back and lower back as well as the sacrum and tailbone.
Osteoporosis is a condition where there is a progressive loss of bone density and decrease in the strength of the skeleton with a resultant risk of fracture.
Chronic musculoskeletal conditions
See the Latest updates: Admitted patient care statistics up to 2020–21 (9 February 2023)
The number of first hip fracture patients ranged between 16,300 and 17,100 in each year between 2013–14 and 2016–17
The age-standardised rate of hip fracture fell by 4.4% between the peak in 2014–15 and 2016–17
3% of first hip fracture patients had a second hip fracture within one year