What Is Musculoskeletal Pain?

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  • Written By: T. Broderick
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 08 June 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Musculoskeletal pain is pain that affects the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves. One can experience this type of pain in a number of ways, from a general soreness to sharp pain. Injury is the most common cause of musculoskeletal pain. To diagnose the condition, a physician will need to take one's medical history and perform an examination. Treatment options depend on the location and extent of the damage that causes the sensation of pain.

Pain in the musculoskeletal system can present in a number of ways. In most cases, it occurs when one moves the affected area. The pain can start off as soreness that worsens over time. It generally lessens once physical activity has stopped, though bone pain tends to linger the longest and may not stop without treatment. Swelling can accompany joint pain.

Any number of injuries can cause musculoskeletal pain, including ones so minor that they do not require immediate medical treatment. One of the most common causes is overuse. This is especially true for individuals who make their living through physical labor; for them, back pain is a common symptom of overuse. The same type of pain can develop in individuals who work primary by typing on a keyboard; carpal tunnel syndrome is a form of neuropathy that develops after constant strain on wrist nerves.


Outside of injury, other conditions have musculoskeletal pain as a symptom. The presence of a bone tumor can cause bone and muscle pain; the growth of a bone tumor will cause pain to increase over time as it applies more pressure to the surrounding nerves. Arthritis is a form of joint inflammation that occurs when the body attacks its own tissues. Finally, some conditions have no agreed upon cause; fibromyalgia, for example, is an unexplained pain in the muscles and connective tissues.

Diagnosing the cause of musculoskeletal pain requires a physical and possibly other tests. After an interview and physical, a physician may have a patient undergo x-rays and blood tests. In most cases, these tests reveal the underlying cause, such as an undiscovered fracture or torn ligament. After diagnosis, a patient can begin a course of treatment.

As there are many causes of musculoskeletal pain, there are many treatment options. In addition to over-the-counter pain killers, massage and hot/cold packs can treat minor strains. In addition to these treatments, daily stretching can help prevent future pain. Injections of anti-inflammatory medication can reduce the pain from arthritis and other forms of inflammation.



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