Musculoskeletal Pain – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments


Musculoskeletal pain affects a person’s bones, muscles tendons, and/or ligaments. The pain can be localized and acute, or chronic and throughout the body.


Musculoskeletal pain is caused by a variety of reasons. Some causes of acute musculoskeletal pain include, but are not limited to, trauma, directly on the muscles or ligaments, such as: sports injuries, automobile accidents, sprains, strains, and a dislocation of bones or joints.

Chronic musculoskeletal pain can be due to poor posture, or over use of a particular muscle group. Long periods of immobilization, as well as the natural-aging process can bring about long lasting musculoskeletal pain.

Symptoms associated with Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal Pain

Symptoms differ from person to person, but an “achy” feeling that worsens with movement is a common complaint among sufferers with muscle pain. A burning sensation and muscle spasms are also more common symptoms associated with musculoskeletal pain.

Sleep disturbances are also a common symptom among people who have musculoskeletal pain. This is due to the fact that finding a comfortable resting position, that does not cause pain, can prove to be a challenge. Not getting quality sleep on a consistent basis will leave a person feeling fatigued.

Types of Musculoskeletal Pain

Arthritis is broadly categorized as an inflammation in the joints that causes pain, especially in the extremities (such as the fingers and hands).

Muscle pain ranges from an annoying ache to severe (almost paralyzing) stiffness. Injury is a common cause of muscle pain, but an infection, lack of flood flow, or a tumor can also be the cause of this type of pain.

Pain associated with Fibromyalgia is often times long-lasting and difficult for patients to describe, as the pain can be in several areas of the body. Other symptoms associated with this condition may include fatigue and depression.

Back pain is a common ailment of adults, and is usually associated with an occupation or a lifestyle. The areas affected are the neck to the lower back. Back pain can be caused by sore muscles, herniated discs, or nerve damage.

Repetitive strain injury occurs in individuals who perform a physical task repeatedly. Writer’s cramp and carpal tunnel syndrome are excellent examples of this painful condition.

Treatment Options

RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) is a combination of common relief treatments that are often used to effectively treat muscular pain.

Topical analgesics are specialized creams, ointments, gels, or lotions that are applied directly to the skin (at the site of pain). Some products are made to stimulate the nerve endings on the skin, and this will distract the brain from the true pain. Other topical analgesics work by halting the chemical transmission of pain throughout the body.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are a common treatment for pain. They are available in over-the-counter strength, and also prescription strength, for more stubborn pain. Not only are NSAIDs used to minimize pain, but in addition, they also reduce fevers and inflammation. It has been researched, that by reducing inflammation throughout the body, musculoskeletal pain will also be reduced. It is for this reason, that NSAIDs are the first course of treatment for muscle pains. Also, NSAIDs can prevent blood clots from forming.

The main objective of chiropractic care is to treat musculoskeletal pain, and encourage a pain- free life, by using techniques such as, osteopathic manipulation, as well as hands-on spinal manipulation. A controlled amount of manual force is applied to spinal joints that may have become restricted.

By strengthening muscles through regular exercise, you can prepare your body to better be able to handle muscle aches and soreness. In addition, stretching exercises will keep muscles long and limber.

Acupuncture is a traditional form of Chinese healing. This treatment involves the insertion of very thin needles into the skin’s surface. The needles are placed in a very specific location that are said to stimulate the flow of healing energy throughout the body. Acupressure is a similar concept, only the pressure of the practitioners fingers are used instead of thin needles.

Therapeutic massage therapy is a pleasant and relaxing way to have musculoskeletal pain lifted. Bio-feedback and other types of relaxation techniques are said to also aid in relieving physical pain.

Injections, used directly on the site of pain, have also been used as a treatment to relive pain in the muscles.