Musculoskeletal Disorders, or MSDs, are injuries, conditions, and disorders that affect the body’s musculoskeletal system. It includes the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, bones, and joints. MSDs are common, and the risk of developing them increases with age. The severity of an MSD can vary. They cause discomfort, recurrent pain, stiffness, swelling, and aching that interfere with everyday activities. Early diagnosis and treatment can alleviate symptoms and improve long-term health. Common disorders include:
The term musculoskeletal disorder is used as it accurately describes the injury or condition. Other terms used are repetitive motion injury, repetitive stress injury, and overuse injury. When individuals are exposed to MSD risk factors, they begin to fatigue. This can start a musculoskeletal imbalance. With time, fatigue completely overtakes recovery/healing, and the musculoskeletal imbalance continues, a musculoskeletal disorder develops. The risk factors are broken into two categories: work-related/ergonomic risk factors and individual-related risk factors.
The causes of musculoskeletal disorders are varied. Muscle tissue can be damaged with the wear and tear of daily work, school, and physical activities. Trauma to the body can come from:
Poor body mechanics can cause spinal alignment problems and muscle shortening, causing other muscles to be strained, causing problems and pain.
A doctor will recommend a treatment plan based on the diagnosis and severity of the symptoms. They may recommend moderate exercise and over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to address occasional discomfort or pain. They often recommend chiropractic and physical therapy rehabilitation to learn how to manage pain and discomfort, maintain strength, range of motion, and adjust everyday activities. Different types of manual therapy, or mobilization, can treat body alignment problems. A doctor may prescribe medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories NSAIDs to reduce inflammation and pain for more severe symptoms. For individuals with musculoskeletal disorders like fibromyalgia, medications to increase the body’s level of serotonin and norepinephrine may be prescribed in low doses to modulate sleep, pain, and immune system function.
Pain can be grouped into three categories:
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The information herein on "Musculoskeletal Disorders" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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