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Briefing paper
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Musculoskeletal conditions are a range of conditions that affect the bones, muscles and connective tissues. In this bulletin, the musculoskeletal conditions reported include osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; osteoporosis; back problems; gout and other inflammatory arthropathies (in ammation of one or more joints); and lupus and other systemic connective tissue disorders.

Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions are not commonly recorded as the underlying cause of death; however, they are prevalent chronic diseases affecting 30% of Australians, and are more commonly reported as other causes that contributed to the death.

For the almost 148,000 deaths in 2013:

  • musculoskeletal conditions were recorded as the underlying cause for 1,181 deaths (0.8% of all deaths) and as an associated cause for 5,782 deaths (3.9% of all deaths)
  • the most common musculoskeletal condition group recorded as an underlying cause of death was lupus and other connective tissue disorders (245 deaths).

In 2011–2013, in cases where a musculoskeletal condition was recorded as an associated cause of death, the most common leading underlying cause of death was Coronary heart disease, followed by Dementia and Alzheimer disease, Cerebrovascular disease, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Diabetes. This pattern was similar to the overall leading causes of death, which were Coronary heart disease, Cerebrovascular disease, Dementia and Alzheimer disease, Lung cancer and Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The number of deaths where a musculoskeletal condition was recorded as either an underlying or an associated cause of death increased over time between 1997 and 2013, but this was consistent with changes in the age profile of the population.

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