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date: 20 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter on the musculoskeletal system aims to give an overview of the evolutionary implications for health and diseases of this body system. Using specific examples, the chapter shows how musculoskeletal diseases develop from an evolutionary point of view, with a specific emphasis on mismatches between the evolved human body and the modern environment, as well as on consequences of human bipedal gait. The chapter discusses the evolutionary aetiology of common musculoskeletal disorders as a consequence of mismatch to the modern world, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, osteoporosis, and impacted third molars. As a consequence of the passage to bipedalism, the evolutionary background of low back pain, and knee and hip arthritis is examined. The chapter concludes with a discussion of implications for treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal diseases, focusing on the life course approach to health. In fact, every life stage shows specific needs and asks for specific interventions in order to optimally maintain musculoskeletal health up to old age.

Keywords: bipedalism, low back pain, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, relaxed natural selection, physical activity, palaeopathology, evolution, medicine, life course approach

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