New research centre announced

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University of Liverpool © Josh Handscomb

University of Liverpool © Josh Handscomb

The University of Liverpool has announced a new research centre to tackle the impact of musculoskeletal disorders on people’s ability to work.

Researchers at The University of Southampton’s £1.4m Arthritis Research UK/ MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal  Health and Work will focus their research on the three main musculoskeletal causes of work disability – back, neck and arm pain, osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis.

Professor Robert Moots, University of Liverpool’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease,  is leading Liverpool’s role in the research.

He said: “There is increasing pressure for people to stay in work longer and retire at an older age. While this is fine for many people, it can be a serious problem for those with musculoskeletal diseases, such as osteoarthritis, which is much more common in older people.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, nearly 31 million days of work were lost last year due to back, neck and muscle problems.

Professor Moots added: “The University of Liverpool is delighted to be a part of this new MRC ARUK Centre. Our research is designed to help identify the interaction between musculoskeletal and other health problems that can hamper the ability to work as people age.”

Musculoskeletal disorders have been the primary cause of absence in the workplace over the past five years, with the UK having one of the highest rates in Europe.

Dr Stephen Simpson, director of research at medical research charity Arthritis Research UK, said: “The reason for setting up the centre is that we simply don’t know enough about the best ways of keeping people with musculoskeletal conditions in employment.

“Our researchers will be working with employees, employers and the medical profession to find solutions to what is a major issue for society, and we expect it will lead to some direct, practical outcomes.”

About Josh Handscomb, JMU Journalism