To explore the extent to which musculoskeletal (MSK) complications have been reported following critical illness, identifying evidence gaps and providing recommendations for future research.
We searched five databases from January 1st 2000 to March 31st 2021. We included published original research reporting MSK complications in patients discharged from hospital following an admission to an intensive care unit (ICU). Two reviewers independently screened English language articles for eligibility. Data extracted included the MSK area of investigation and MSK outcome measures. The overall quality of study was evaluated against standardised reporting guidelines.
4512 titles were screened, and 32 met the inclusion criteria. Only one study included was interventional, with the majority being prospective cohort studies (n = 22). MSK complications identified included: muscle weakness or atrophy, chronic pain, neuromuscular dysfunction, peripheral joint impairment and fracture risk. The quality of the overall reporting in the studies was deemed adequate.
We identified a heterogenous body of literature reporting a high prevalence of a variety of MSK complications extending beyond muscle weakness, therefore future investigation should include evaluations of more than one MSK area. Further investigation of MSK complications could inform the development of future post critical illness rehabilitation programs.

Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.