Musculoskeletal (MSK) Helpline

The Musculoskeletal (MSK) Helpline is a phone service for people experiencing symptoms of MSK disorders - such as back pain or sports injuries. 

Our MSK helpline has been temporarily suspended while our staff have been re-directed to deal with coronavirus (COVID-19) calls.

Anyone with an urgent MSK issue should contact their local healthcare professional.

The service is only available in certain health board regions but is gradually being rolled out across Scotland.

How this service can help

The helpline is operated by the Musculoskeletal Advice and Triage Service (MATS) and is provided by fully trained call operators, nurses and physiotherapists.

This service can help by:

  • finding out if you need to see a doctor
  • providing key information and advice to help with your problem
  • referring you to a physiotherapist or podiatrist if you need it

They can't:

  • arrange home visits - this should be arranged by your doctor
  • book and manage your physiotherapy appointments


To use this service you must be aged 16 or over and registered with a GP in:

  • Ayrshire and Arran
  • the Borders
  • Dumfries and Galloway
  • Fife
  • Forth Valley
  • Grampian
  • the Highlands
  • Lanarkshire
  • Lothian
  • Tayside

If you're not eligible, but need advice about a musculoskeletal problem, speak to your GP to find out if you can refer yourself to a local MSK service.

What happens when I phone?

When you phone you'll speak to our trained advisors. They'll ask you a series of questions normally lasting less than 10 minutes. These questions have been carefully developed and endorsed by healthcare professionals and patient representatives. You might think some questions seem unrelated to your problem, but for your safety, we ask everybody the same questions.

They'll direct you to:

  • key information
  • videos
  • exercise tips to help with your specific problem

Depending on the replies given they may offer to refer you for face-to-face treatment with a physiotherapist or podiatrist


We've included a range of self-management information, tools and exercises on NHS inform to help you treat and recover from muscle, bone and joint problems and know when to seek help.
Find self-management advice

Referral to a physiotherapist or podiatrist?

If they refer you to a physiotherapist or podiatrist, your details are sent electronically to your local service where an appointment will be arranged for you. You don't need to call them, they'll contact you about your appointment.


No improvement

You might feel some pain and discomfort when you start to exercise, this is normal. If your symptoms don't improve after 2 weeks of following our advice and trying these exercises, please call us back.

If your symptoms change or get worse, speak to your local healthcare professional or phone the 111 service if your GP practice is closed.