What Are Musculoskeletal Diseases?

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  • Written By: Sandra Koehler
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 03 January 2019
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Musculoskeletal diseases or disorders are any medical conditions that affect the bones, joints, nerves, and muscles, along with their supporting structures such as tendons and ligaments. These disorders can be congenital, or present at birth, or they can be brought on by injury or trauma resulting from accidents, repetitive use syndromes, or poor body mechanics. The most common symptom of musculoskeletal diseases is pain.

Since musculoskeletal diseases affect how the body moves, symptoms can range — depending on the severity of the problem — from mild and sporadic to severe and chronic. Discomfort can be local, occurring at the site of the problem and the immediate surrounding area. This type of pain can spread to a larger area when the problem, such as muscle spasms or uncontrolled tightness of the muscles, remains unresolved for a long period of time. In this process, even more muscle fibers can become tense, causing the surrounding structures to become stressed.

If the nerves are involved in musculoskeletal diseases, pain may travel the length of the nerve and cause symptoms in another area of the body. This may cause soreness to radiate from the source. Nerve involvement may also cause pain only in an unusual area. For example, an injury to the sciatic nerve can cause pain from the low back to the posterior leg and foot or only in the back of the leg.


Congenital musculoskeletal diseases can include structural abnormalities which cause changes in the normal alignment of the body. Scoliosis, in which the spine presents with an irregular curvature which can extend to issues with the femur, can cause an atypical positioning of the leg. These circumstances throw off the body’s overall orientation and cause pain symptoms throughout the body.

Disorders that can change the structure of the body can also occur as a result of the aging process. Arthritis, for example, is a condition in which continued wear and tear of the body causes changes in the joints of the body. In turn, these deviations can cause improper body positioning and cause pain issues and decreased abilities to move and function normally.

Injuries presenting with a disruption of the normal alignment or strain on the muscles are also considered amusculoskeletal diseases or disorders. This type of damage is usually temporary unless a condition, such a complicated or improperly healed fracture, decreases the body’s ability to return to its normal palcement and functioning. Repetitive use syndromes are another example where habitual misuse of a specific part of the body can cause pain or structural problems.



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