Medical Perspectives | Others

July 30, 2021

How many times have you heard your parents complain of back aches? Or seen athletes writhe in pain from pulled muscles? Or comforted your child suffering from a sprain? All these aches and pains are felt in the musculoskeletal system or simply “the muscles, tendon and ligament, bones and joints, and all associated tissues that move the body”.[1] There are more than 150 diagnoses that affect the locomotor system, according to World Health Organization (WHO) information.[2] The most common are osteoarthritis, back and neck pain, fractures, injuries and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.


WHO key facts on musculoskeletal conditions emphasize that it is the leading contributor to disability worldwide, especially low back pain. It is estimated that 20-30% of people around the world suffer from painful musculoskeletal conditions. The 2017 Global Burden of Disease study shows that musculoskeletal conditions came in second as a leading cause of global disability.[3]


The 2015 Philippine Statistics Authority Integrated Survey on Labor and Employment shows that back pain, neck-shoulder pain and other work-related musculoskeletal diseases are among the top occupational diseases in the workplace.[4] In addition, musculoskeletal conditions from trauma and accidents were the 6th leading cause of mortality as per 1989 Health Intelligence Survey Service of the Department of Health. Furthermore, it is projected to be the 3rd leading cause of mortality by the year 2020.[5]


Keeping aches and pains away from the musculoskeletal system is essential for all other body systems to stay in good working condition. And of course, no muscle or joint pains mean a better quality of life.


What should one guard against or look out for to keep the musculoskeletal system in top condition. Certain lifestyle habits have a considerable impact:[6]

  • Smoking, which affects the system in various ways, from reducing blood supply to the bones and decreasing absorption rate of calcium, as well as its effect on the tendons, ligaments and muscles
  • Alcohol and soda consumption have an effect on calcium absorption as well, which could lead to osteoporosis
  • Calcium and Vitamin D are necessary to keep the bones healthy and help muscles work properly. If the body is deficient in calcium and Vitamin D, it gets what is needed from the bones and tissues, which could result in brittle bones.
  • Exercise and physical activity are important to maintain muscle and tissue health. Inadequate levels of physical activity affects muscle mass, bone strength and tissue health.


Healthy muscles, bones and joints can be maintained and nurtured through these simple tips:[7]

  • Stay active and exercise. The physical activity helps keep joints strong and healthy.
  • Avoid sudden movements which could lead to injuries.
  • Eat healthy, choose foods that will benefit the musculoskeletal system, especially those with vitamins C, K and A, iron, calcium and magnesium.
  • Watch your weight, staying fit and light will mean less pressure on your joints and lesser likelihood of pain.


[1] Lawrence University. [2014]. Musculoskeletal Health. Retrieved from

[2] World Health Organization. [2019, August]. Musculoskeletal conditions. Retrieved from

[3] World Health Organization. [2019, August]. Musculoskeletal conditions. Retrieved from

[4] Philippine Statistics Authority. [2018, April]. Safety and Health in the Workplace. Retrieved from

[5] National Council on Disability Affairs. [n.d.] Proclamation No. 657. Retrieved from

[6] Lawrence University. [2014]. Musculoskeletal Health. Retrieved from

[7] Yerebakan, H. [2015, January]. 4 tips to keep the musculoskeletal system healthy. Retrieved from

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