Barts and The London, School of Medicine and Dentistry


Year 1 LOC1: Locomotor 1

Teaching Material for this Module


Disorders of the Locomotor (musculoskeletal) system are extremely common in the community. They account for up to a third of all General Practitioner consultations and result in huge costs to the economy in terms of time lost from work, costs to industry and the individual, as well as significant disability.

In 2007, musculoskeletal disorders resulted in 9.5 million lost working days, and were estimated to cost society approximately £7.4 billion. In the UK, four out every five adults will experience back pain at some point in their life. Whilst most cases are classed as simple low back pain which will resolve within four weeks, about quarter of patients will suffer from significant pain and disability which lasts for longer than six weeks.

Back pain is the second most frequent cause (after the common cold) for visits to the GP accounting for about 7 million GP visits annually, an estimated cost to the NHS of around £481 million and a further £197 million of non-NHS costs as a result of private consultations and treatment.

What is less well known is that some Locomotor Diseases may also reduce life span of the individual significantly - or can cause life-threatening complications. There are over 200 known rheumatic diseases and over 8 million people in the UK have osteoarthritis or one of the other conditions in this group. Not only are adults affected - one child in every thousand has arthritis so these conditions do

not just affect the elderly. A rheumatic disease causes a significant disability in more than 3 million people in the UK; this is half of the physically disabled adults in the UK.

In order to understand these diseases and understand their impact of the musculoskeletal system, you have to appreciate the basic anatomy of the limbs and vertebral column. This module is designed to introduce you to the normal structure and function of the Locomotor system. It builds on the learning undertaken in the FunMed module on the skeletal/muscle.

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