Background: Musculoskeletal disorders make up a heterogeneous group. Our aim was to describe the variation in social insurance benefits for the most prevalent disorders within this group.
Material and methods: The study was based on the Norwegian labour and welfare administration's registers on sickness benefits and disability benefits.
Results: Of the musculoskeletal disorders, low back conditions are the most frequent causes of sick leave and disability benefits, and account for 11 and 9% respectively. Neck and shoulder disorders are also common causes of sick leave, while osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia are common causes of disability benefits and each account for 5% of all new cases.
Interpretation: The labour and welfare administration should continue to focus on musculoskeletal disorders to prevent long-term sick leave and permanent absence from work.