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Musculoskeletal Pain

When Moving Hurts: Assess, Understand, Take Action


About this Global
Year Campaign

IASP decided to focus on musculoskeletal pain because it is an enormous problem that affects millions of people worldwide. According to leading pain experts—including IASP Global Year Co-Chairs Dr. Lars Arendt-Nielsen of the University of Aalborg, Denmark, and Dr. Kathleen A. Sluka of the University of Iowa, USA—more people around the world experience musculoskeletal pain than any other type of pain.

The problem of musculoskeletal pain is complex and far-reaching, encompassing many different types of pain, such as neck pain, limb pain, low back pain, joint pain, bone pain, and chronic widespread pain, just to name a few. Yet, despite the wide-ranging conditions and symptoms, all types of musculoskeletal pain share similar underlying mechanisms, manifestations, and potential treatments.

Challenges and Issues

Challenges and Issues

IASP identified several major challenges surrounding musculoskeletal pain that the Global Year campaign addressed, including the following:

  • Treatment for musculoskeletal pain is not adequate.
  • At the chronic level, musculoskeletal pain is typically managed, but not cured.
  • It is often difficult to relate pathophysiological changes to the patient’s actual pain, which makes musculoskeletal pain especially challenging to diagnose.

Moreover, even when the source of the musculoskeletal pain is identifiable, it can still be difficult to link the source and the severity of the pain, as they do not always match. Although the patient’s pain is real, you cannot always see it. He or she is in pain, but the clinician cannot determine why or pinpoint the source.

Beyond the suffering and discomfort associated with musculoskeletal pain, there are huge financial and other costs, including medical care expenses, lost work days, and diminished quality and productivity in patients’ work and personal lives—all of which are fueled by worldwide trends, including:

  • Aging populations
  • Sedentary lifestyles
  • Increasing incidence of obesity


All three videos are now available with subtitles in Arabic, Chinese, French, and Spanish! Click on the language links below the videos to view the subtitled version(s) of your choice.

This video, created by IASP Global Year Co-Chairs Dr. Lars Arendt-Nielsen of the University of Aalborg, Denmark, and Dr. Kathleen A. Sluka of the University of Iowa, USA, introduces the concept of musculoskeletal pain and the importance of understanding it.

Video available in:

Chinese | French | Spanish

Chronic musculoskeletal pain and its treatment, though common, is often misunderstood. Many people have adopted false beliefs about chronic pain and chronic pain treatment. This video addresses some of the myths about chronic pain treatment.

Video available in:

Chinese | French | Spanish

One of the best, most effective, and most long-lasting treatments for chronic pain is exercise. This video highlights the benefits of exercise in managing chronic pain.

Video available in:

Chinese | French | Spanish

Global Year Fact Sheets

Global Year Fact Sheets

The following English Fact Sheets for the 2010 Global Year Against Musculoskeletal Pain have been revised in 2017.

The International Association for the Study of Pain is happy to provide access to this year's Global Year fact sheets. Please contact us to inquire.

  • Musculoskeletal Pain
  • Basic Aspects of Muscle Pain
  • Assessment of Musculoskeletal Pain: Experimental and Clinical
  • Epidemiology of Musculoskeletal Pain
  • Interdisciplinary Approaches in Management of Musculoskeletal Pain
  • Evidence-Based Biopsychosocial Treatment of Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain
  • Evidence-Based Invasive Treatment of Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain
  • Exercise in Management of Musculoskeletal Pain
  • Fear Avoidance and Musculoskeletal Pain
  • Acute Musculoskeletal Pain
  • Injuries and Pain in Sports and Exercise
  • Epicondylalgia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial Pain
  • Temporomandibular Disorder Pain
  • Functional Disorders
  • Neck Pain
  • Joint Pain
  • Whiplash
  • Osteoarthritis-Related Pain
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Shoulder Pain
Letter from the President

Letter from the President

I am pleased to announce the 2009–2010 Global Year Against Musculoskeletal Pain. This IASP-sponsored campaign will draw attention to the disabling pain experienced by people around the world suffering from musculoskeletal disorders. Built around the theme of “When Moving Hurts: Assess, Understand, Take Action,” this vital initiative calls upon each of us to provide a voice to those with musculoskeletal pain.


Access previous global year campaigns and relevant fact sheets, interviews, and more resources.

Learn More >