© Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://www.bmj.com/company/products-services/rights-and-licensing/. Objectives We used findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 to report the burden of musculoskeletal disorders in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR). Methods The burden of musculoskeletal disorders was calculated for the EMR's 22 countries between 1990 and 2013. A systematic analysis was performed on mortality and morbidity data to estimate prevalence, death, years of live lost, years lived with disability and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). Results For musculoskeletal disorders, the crude DALYs rate per 100 000 increased from 1297.1 (95% uncertainty interval (UI) 924.3-1703.4) in 1990 to 1606.0 (95% UI 1141.2-2130.4) in 2013. During 1990-2013, the total DALYs of musculoskeletal disorders increased by 105.2% in the EMR compared with a 58.0% increase in the rest of the world. The burden of musculoskeletal disorders as a proportion of total DALYs increased from 2.4% (95% UI 1.7-3.0) in 1990 to 4.7% (95% UI 3.6-5.8) in 2013. The range of point prevalence (per 1000) among the EMR countries was 28.2-136.0 for low back pain, 27.3-49.7 for neck pain, 9.7-37.3 for osteoarthritis (OA), 0.6-2.2 for rheumatoid arthritis and 0.1-0.8 for gout. Low back pain and neck pain had the highest burden in EMR countries. Conclusions This study shows a high burden of musculoskeletal disorders, with a faster increase in EMR compared with the rest of the world. The reasons for this faster increase need to be explored. Our findings call for incorporating prevention and control programmes that should include improving health data, addressing risk factors, providing evidence-based care and community programmes to increase awareness.