Abstract: Musculoskeletal conditions (MsC) are a major burden to the individual, society and the health service; 15–20% of all GP consultations involve patients with MsC. Incident cases of osteoarthritis are ten times more common than rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The prevalence of MsC is higher in women, rises with age and is likely to continue to rise as life expectancy increases. The costs of MsC include those to healthcare services, to society and indirect costs. MsC are among the most commonly reported causes of work-related ill health. Rheumatoid arthritis alone costs the UK economy between £3.8 and 4.8 billion a year. The average cost of a major hip procedure is £7800 and of a major knee procedure £6000. Risk factors for MsC include age and gender. The prevalence of certain MsC varies depending on ethnicity, lifestyle factors and genetic predisposition. The main consequences of MsC are chronic pain and disability. The burden of MsC is high and the impact of these conditions on the health service and society will continue to rise alongside increasing life expectancy.