The prevalence and functional impact of musculoskeletal conditions amongst clients of a primary health care facility in an under-resourced area of Cape Town

Journal Article


Journal Title

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

BioMed Central Ltd


University of Cape Town

BACKGROUND:The extent of disease burden of musculoskeletal conditions (MSC) not due to injury has not been well determined in sub-Saharan Africa. The 1999 Global Burden of Disease study estimated the prevalence of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis to be 150/100,000 compared to 1,500/100,000 in Europe. The objective of the study was to determine the prevalence of MSC and the functional implications in a sample of people attending community health centres in Cape Town, South Africa. METHODS: A cross-sectional, descriptive study was conducted in clinics in two resource poor communities. Phase I consisted of screening and those who screened positive for peripheral or spinal joint pain went on to complete Phase II, which included the Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire. RESULTS: 1005 people were screened in Phase I. Of these, 362 (36%) reported MSC not due to injury in the past three months. Those with MSC had higher rates of co-morbidities in every category than those without. The mean Disability Index for those with MSC was mild to moderate and moderate to severe in those over 55 years. CONCLUSIONS: Although the sample may not be representative of the general community, the prevalence is considerably greater than those reported elsewhere even when the population of the catchment area is used as a denominator, (367/100 000). The common presentation of MSC with co-morbid diabetes and hypertension requires holistic management by appropriately trained health care practitioners. Any new determination of burden of disease due to MSC should recognise that these disorders may be more prevalent in developing countries than previously estimated.