Why we champion Early Intervention for musculoskeletal conditions

The impact of musculoskeletal conditions (MSKs) on people can be significant.  Conditions that affect mobility and dexterity prevent people from doing what they want and need to do.  Some MSKs are short term or recurrent but many last from months to a lifetime, and can be progressive in their impact. Musculoskeletal conditions are the greatest cause of disability in most countries. Their impact can be felt at all ages which has a major consequence on the ability to work and economic independence. They are one of the greatest causes of work loss with economic effects on individuals, their families and society.

In November 2016, the Fit for Work Global Alliance, the Work Foundation, the Association for Patients’ Rights Protection in Slovakia (AOPP) and the European Patients’ Forum, in co-operation with the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic, convened a Summit on Early Intervention Solutions for MSKs.

The Summit aimed at highlighting the value of Early Intervention (EI) as a fundamental solution to improve patient quality of life and to sustain health and social systems.  In summary, we believe that there are three clear reasons why EI is of value:

  • By intervening early we can ensure illnesses do not exclude people from the workplace and we can prevent or ameliorate the development of chronic conditions, especially MSKs and pain.
  • By intervening early we can save costs to the economy and society by reducing the need for long term care and the consequent burden on the health and welfare system.
  • By intervening early, employers can retain their most skilled people and allow them to be more productive – a vital consideration in times of a rapidly ageing population.

The summit concluded with a Call to Action directed at government stakeholders, the European Commission and the incoming Trio Presidency of Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria.

Going forward we are working with partners on developing online tools to guide health professionals and employers how best to undertake such interventions.

To hear more about Early Intervention you can watch an interview with Professor Dame Carol Black on our YouTube channel.

If you are interested in finding out more about the tools we are developing or opportunities to partner with the Fit for Work Global Alliance please contact us.