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. 

Phone 0800 917 9390 (9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday). Calls are free from landlines and mobiles.

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 healthcare professional if you need it - this could be a physiotherapist, podiatrist or other MSK specialist

They can't:

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

Eligibility

To use this service you must:

  • be aged 16 or over
  • be registered with a GP
  • live within a qualifying area

The service is only available to people that live in:

  • Ayrshire and Arran
  • the Borders
  • Dumfries and Galloway
  • 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 be asked a series of questions normally lasting less than 10 minutes. These have been carefully prepared by healthcare professionals with specialist knowledge of these types of problems. 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 healthcare professional.

Referral to a healthcare professional?

If they refer you to to a healthcare professional, 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.

Waiting times for appointments vary, but if you've not heard after 10 weeks contact your local service:

  • Ayrshire and Arran (01292 665005)
  • Borders (01896 827755)
  • Dumfries and Galloway (0300 123 4022)
  • Forth Valley (01324 673890)
  • Grampian (01224 553 333)
  • Highland (0800 0288388)
  • Lanarkshire (01236 713901)
  • Lothian (0131 536 1060)
  • Tayside (01241 822 563 (Angus) / 01382 425 668 (Dundee) / 01738 473 282 (Perth))

If you no longer need an appointment, contact your local service and let them know.

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 GP or phone the NHS 24 111 service if your GP practice is closed.