Musculoskeletal disorders are a key cause of morbidity in elderly people. How musculoskeletal disorders relate to healthy life expectancy remain elusive. Hence, we aimed to estimate gains in healthy life expectancy from the elimination of musculoskeletal diseases and injuries by using recent national health statistics data in Japan.
Mortality data were taken from Japanese national life tables and death certificates in 2016. Information on medical diagnoses, injuries, and activity were obtained from the 2016 Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions. We examined five disorders: rheumatoid arthritis, arthrosis, low back pain, osteoporosis, and fracture. The prevalence of limitations in activities of daily living (ADL) in the population after eliminating the disorder was estimated as the proportion of outpatients without the disorder and ADL limitations, inpatients without the disorder in hospitals and clinics, and people without the disorder who reside in long-term elderly care facilities.
There were small gains in life expectancy from elimination of all selected musculoskeletal disorders (0.0-0.1 years). Elimination of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and fracture slightly increased the expected years without activity limitation (0.1-0.4) and slightly decreased years with activity limitation (0.1-0.4 years). Meanwhile, elimination of arthrosis, low back pain, and arthrosis and low back pain moderately increased expected years without activity limitation (0.3-1.5 years) and decreased years with activity limitation (0.3-1.5 years). In addition, elimination of rheumatoid arthritis, arthrosis, low back pain, osteoporosis, and fracture decreased expected years with ADL limitations (0.0-0.8 years) and non-ADL limitations (0.0-0.3 years). A combination of arthrosis and low back pain showed a moderate decrease in expected years with both ADL limitations (0.7-1.1 years) and non-ADL limitations (0.3-0.4).
These findings provide clinical evidence that among the musculoskeletal disorders low back pain and arthrosis are the key factors for the elongation of healthy life expectancy.

© 2021. The Author(s).