The term MSK means ‘musculoskeletal’, thus an NHS clinician who manages problems or dysfunction arising from bones and ligaments that form joints, muscles and tendons which make movement, and the nervous system which senses pain. Practitioners can come from a range of allied health profession (AHP) disciplines but are predominantly experienced physiotherapists however can also be from the fields of osteopathy and podiatry3, all of whom are registered with the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council).
These experts are advanced clinical practitioners (ACP’s) and in the case of physiotherapy they own extended scope skills such as pain-relieving steroid injection therapy, ordering and interpretation of x-rays/ultrasound scans and blood tests, they will also have non-medical prescribing qualifications2. With these skills MSK practitioners can provide a highly specialised assessment and diagnostic triage, they can check for red flags (cancer), provide advice on self-management and/or exercise and social prescription1, they also determine the basis for referral for investigations and further management into secondary care. They can help patients with back and joint pain, including conditions such as arthritis4 but also have a truly extensive scope of knowledge of the whole MSK system.
A genuine benefit to the patient is that MSK practitioners can be contacted directly, rather than waiting to see a GP or getting a referral to hospital4. MSK Practitioners take a significant proportion of the MSK workload from GPs this increases your local GP practices capacity, it supports faster access to advice and self-care expertise which the patient would have received after waiting for their initial physiotherapy rehabilitation appointment, and as a result MSK practitioners streamline the MSK pathway1.
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Elective Care High Impact Interventions: First Contact Practitioner for MSK Services May 2019 NHS England NHS improvement (Online 08/02/2020)
Royal college of general practitioner website (Online 08/02/2020)
Health Education England (Online 08/02/2020)
NHS England (Online 08/02/2020)