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3 20 Care of People with Musculoskeletal Problems

Key messages

  • Each year 20% of the general population consult a GP with a musculoskeletal problem [1]
  • Research evidence supports the effectiveness of simple positive approaches for many patients, and general practitioners (GPs) should encourage appropriate self-care [2,3]
  • Common musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain and osteoarthritis are the dominant cause of chronic pain, disability and work loss in the UK
  • As a GP, understanding the psychological and social dimensions of chronic pain and disability is fundamental to your management of musculoskeletal conditions 
  • Taking an effective history and making a simple, focused examination in general practice is likely to be more important than imaging and serology, which on their own may be falsely reassuring
  • Early diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, has a major impact on long-term outcome. Urgent referral to specialist care is indicated if there is clinical suspicion of inflammatory arthritis [4]

Knowledge and skills guide

This section contains the learning outcomes for the 'Care of People with Musculoskeletal Problems' curriculum module.

These are grouped into 12 core areas of competence concerned with the tasks you will undertake as a general practitioner when delivering care to people in your community.

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Case discussion

This section contains a scenario and questions for reflection which help to illustrate the learning points in this module.

Susan Andrews, a 45-year-old care assistant in a local residential home for older persons, presents in surgery complaining of worsening pain in her lower back during the past four weeks. The pain is confined to her back and does not radiate down her leg. It becomes worse in the course of a day and sometimes wakes her at night....     

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How to learn this area of practice

This section includes suggested activities and strategies for developing the competences you will require.     

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Useful learning resources

This section provides suggestions for further reading and other resources to help you in your training, including books, journal articles and web resources.      

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This section lists references which have been used in the development of the curriculum.     

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