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03-10-2018 | Rheumatology | News | Article

Musculoskeletal conditions associated with increased chronic disease risk

medwireNews: A large meta-analysis has found that individuals with musculoskeletal conditions may have an increased risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Pooled estimates from 10 longitudinal cohort studies, encompassing more than 2.6 million people, found that individuals with a musculoskeletal condition (neck or back pain, or osteoarthritis [OA] of the knee or hip) had a 17% increase in the risk for developing a chronic disease, compared with those without such conditions.

“The results suggest that prevention and early effective treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, such as OA and back and neck pain, may play a role in preventing other chronic diseases,” write Amanda Williams (University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia) and co-researchers in BMC Medicine.

In particular, pooling the results of eight studies, the researchers found that OA was associated with a significant 1.16-fold increase in the risk for both cardiovascular disease and diabetes compared with those without OA, while an analysis of two studies found that individuals with back pain had a 2.13-fold increased risk for cardiovascular disease and a 1.25-fold increased risk for cancer, versus those without back pain. And one study that looked at neck pain found that those with this condition had a 1.20-fold increased risk for cancer versus those without neck pain.

The researchers caution that their meta-analysis could not demonstrate causality, and note that it was limited by a lack of studies investigating conditions other than OA and cardiovascular disease, as well as the analysis methods used by the included studies.

However, they say that “[t]here is evidence to suggest that the relationships found in this review are biologically plausible, meaning that there are possible mechanisms by which musculoskeletal conditions may contribute to the development of chronic disease.”

Williams and colleagues believe that the results have implications for public health. “Typical targets for chronic disease prevention currently include lifestyle risk factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption and smoking, but musculoskeletal conditions are currently largely ignored,” they comment.

“Considering their high global burden, addressing musculoskeletal conditions via public health strategies may have an impact on other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.”

By Catherine Booth

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. © 2018 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature group