We use cookies to track usage and optimise user experience. By continuing to browse and use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Musculoskeletal Issues

« View all Press Releases
21 Mar 2013

A study to be presented at the annual President’s Meeting at Britain’s oldest surgical Royal College today highlights the issue that many referrals to specialists for bone and joint issues are unnecessary. The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (www.rcsed.ac.uk); which later this month opens its first centre of operations in Birmingham to cater for the 80% of its UK membership who are based in England and Wales; will see a number of presentations on topics relevant to surgery and patient safety during its prestigious President’s Meeting, which this year is on the theme of “Emergency Care in the 21st Century”.

At present it is estimated that over one third (17.3 million) of the UK adult population suffer from back pain. Up to 8.5 million people have joint pain, over 4.4 million have moderate/severe osteoarthritis (degradation of joints and cartilage) and over 650,000 have inflammatory arthritis (inflammation of joints and tendons).

The costly and time-consuming exercise of referring patients who do not need surgical intervention; but rather basic physiotherapy care or pain management; is already being actively tackled by the RCSEd, with an innovative course on musculoskeletal issues especially designed for GPs now launching in England, having already successfully run in Scotland. Using prosthetics and role-playing medical students, the interactive courses have become increasingly popular, with demand outstripping spaces at each of the five locations where the course is already held. The course is now being introduced at the College’s new base in Birmingham.

According to consultant orthopaedic surgeon and convener of the course Ali Mehdi, Consultant Trauma & Orthopaedic surgeon;

“Musculoskeletal disorders are common, accounting for roughly a fifth of GP consultations, and this is predicted to increase as the population ages. As general practitioners (GPs) are the first point of contact for patients, it is essential that they are adequately equipped to manage this large part of their workload. The objectives of this course are to provide them with the skills and support necessary to manage musculoskeletal problems in the community up to the point where surgery becomes the only option.”

According to Ian Ritchie, consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon and President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh;

“We are fully committed to providing educational opportunities and resources to the wider medical community, especially those which support our shared goal of providing the best possible care for patients. At our meeting this year we will be covering a host of subjects relating to emergency surgery, many of which have broader implications across healthcare as a whole, such as the debate around specialisation versus generalisation in surgical training; A&E provision; and pre-Hospital care. I’m delighted with the calibre of presentations and the expertise which will be showcased at this exciting event.”

According to Falkirk-based GP Trish Duncan, who attended a recent session;

“Fairly soon after the course I dealt with a fire-fighter in his late 40s who had a longstanding problem with both shoulders. As a direct result of what I learnt I was able to diagnose a frozen shoulder on one side and a trapped tendon (impingement syndrome) on the other. I subsequently injected both shoulders in the appropriate places over a period of weeks. I was pleased to be able to distinguish between the two problems and successfully treat the appropriate spaces.”


The review of referrals to an orthopaedic spinal unit demonstrating that the vast majority (4/5) were not appropriate, has been shortlisted for the ‘Surgeons in Training Medal’, a College prize rewarding young trainees’ research. Find out more about the conference at http://presmeeting.rcsed.ac.uk/


back to top of page