Early intervention: a solution for managing musculoskeletal conditions?

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions comprise a wide range of conditions that affect the joints, bones, muscles and connective tissues; they include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and low back pain. They represent an increasingly significant problem for European economies: lost productivity and sickness absence due to MSKs alone costs the EU approximately €300bn each year (2% of GDP) and this is forecast to increase as the proportion of people aged 65+ grows from 18.4% in 2014 to 28.4% by 2080.

A pioneering clinic in Madrid has shown that, through early intervention, temporary and permanent work disability can be reduced significantly, resulting in an additional 81,000 Spanish workers per day with €11 generated for every €1 of expenditure. If the results from the Madrid clinic were replicated across the EU, it is estimated that an additional 660,000 EU workers would be available for work each day.

Given the scale of this challenge, the Fit for Work Global Alliance and the Work Foundation have been working with partners to develop an online ‘Early Intervention Toolkit’ – a unique resource which, using the example of MSK conditions, illustrates why there is an increasingly urgent need for early intervention services across the EU and, in turn, demonstrates how such services could be implemented, with best practice examples, in a range of countries and health systems.

The Toolkit is currently in testing phase and will be launched during the summer of 2017. For more information, see our Early Intervention Toolkit infographics below (or download them as a PDF here).