For the past five years, Johns Hopkins has worked with Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH) to co-host a multidisciplinary conference, through which 2,000 participants have learned about the latest research and clinical innovations regarding conditions such as stroke, heart and vascular care, primary care and lifestyle medicine.

Most recently, we took on the topic of musculoskeletal conditions, a significant but often underestimated cause of pain and limitation in mobility and functional ability.

In fact, nearly 1 of every 3 people ― regardless of age or home country ― lives with a painful musculoskeletal condition that affects the muscles, bones, joints and associated tissues such as tendons and ligaments. The most common and disabling musculoskeletal conditions are osteoarthritis, back and neck pain, fractures due to injuries or bone fragility, and chronic inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

The consequences are devastating, for individuals and for society. These conditions hamper people’s ability to work and participate in social roles, which affects their mental well-being. More broadly, this reduces their contributions to the organizations they serve and the communities they call home.

To bring these issues to bear, we gathered nearly 400 orthopaedists, physical therapists, rehabilitation therapists, rheumatologists and related health care providers in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, for our multidisciplinary conference, titled “The Art of Motion: Regaining and Maintaining Function in Musculoskeletal Disease.”

The three-day symposium included presentations, scientific debates, posters and practical workshops on how to enhance the quality, effectiveness and precision of treating musculoskeletal conditions — whether through pain management, physical therapy or surgery, among other approaches.

Attendees could learn new practice guidelines and comprehensive approaches for managing conditions related to the hand and wrist, foot and ankle, and shoulder, as well as sports injury, back pain and musculoskeletal considerations related to sickle cell disease.

Overall, the conference brought together more than 35 presenters, including many from JHAH and JHM, and from prominent universities, medical schools, hospitals and clinics across the Kingdom; Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health and the Saudi Federation of Sports Medicine; and Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City, the biggest rehabilitation complex of its kind worldwide.

We knew it was important to incorporate viewpoints from different organizations and disciplines to highlight just how pervasive musculoskeletal conditions are in Saudi Arabia and around the world. We also wanted to foster broader collaboration because treating these conditions successfully requires health care professionals to work in concert with one another, as well as with the patient and the patient’s family to improve long-term outcomes.

In addition to learning evidence-based best practices and connecting directly with colleagues from around the world, this year’s attendees also were able to earn continuing medical education credit hours from the American Medical Association and the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties.

As a benefit to JHAH, we see this as a high-return, low-cost opportunity for its clinicians to continue their education and training, earn credits to maintain their licenses and remain at the top of their practice.

More broadly speaking, Johns Hopkins places great value in facilitating educational opportunities like this annual conference as part of our commitment to advancing health and health care on a global scale.

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