Musculoskeletal pain affects the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. The pain can be felt in just one area such as back pain, or all over the body as in the case of fibromyalgia.
The pain can be either acute, where you feel a rapid onset with severe symptoms or chronic, where the pain has lasted more than 3 months. In both cases, the pain can adversely affect your day to day life.
Anyone can experience musculoskeletal pain. The most common cause of musculoskeletal pain is an injury to the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, or ligaments. For example, car accidents fall, fractures or sprains.
More than 150 different musculoskeletal disorders exist. The most common of which are:
- injuries such as fractures and dislocations
- muscle loss (sarcopenia)
- problems with the structure of bones or joints, such as scoliosis
Types of Musculoskeletal Pain
Some of the more common types of musculoskeletal pain are:
Muscle pain – can be caused by an injury, strain, an autoimmune reaction, loss of blood flow to the muscle, cramp, spasm, infection or tumour.
Bone pain – this can be either deep, penetrating or dull pain and most commonly is the result of an injury.
Tendon and ligament pain – usually from a sprain, strain or tendonitis.
Fibromyalgia – this pain is usually in multiple locations and can be felt in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Fibromyalgia is usually accompanied by other symptoms.
Joint pain – joint injuries or diseases usually produce stiff or aching pain. The pain can vary from mild to severe and can worsen when moving the joint. Joint inflammation (arthritis) is a common form of joint pain.
Nerve compression pain – caused by compression on the nerve, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome and tarsal tunnel syndrome.
The intensity and duration of the pain can vary depending on its origin and from person to person.
Bone pain is dull, sharp, stabbing, or deep.
Muscle pain can be intense and short-lived if it’s caused by a cramp or powerful muscle contraction. The muscle may twitch or contract uncomfortably.
Tendon pain may feel sharp if an injury caused it. It usually worsens when you move or stretch the affected tendon and improves with rest.
Joint pain feels like an aching. It may be accompanied by stiffness and swelling.
Fibromyalgia causes multiple tender spots throughout the body.
Nerve compression pain may have a tingling, pins-and-needles, or burning quality.
Other symptoms depend on the cause of the pain, and can include:
- cracking or popping sound in the joint
- trouble moving the affected area
- difficulty sleeping
- muscle spasms or twitches
A treatment plan will be based on understanding the cause of the pain as well as the symptoms. Physical treatments include body realignment, massage, gentle manipulation of the structure, and where stress or anxiety is found to be part of the cause, techniques are taught on how to manage stress and live a more balanced life.