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Pain Management: Musculoskeletal Pain

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Musculoskeletal pain is pain that affects the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and bones.

What Causes Musculoskeletal Pain?

The causes of musculoskeletal pain are varied. Muscle tissue can be damaged with the wear and tear of daily activities. Trauma to an area (jerking movements, auto accidents, falls, fractures, sprains, dislocations, and direct blows to the muscle) also can cause musculoskeletal pain. Other causes of pain include postural strain, repetitive movements, overuse, and prolonged immobilization. Changes in posture or poor body mechanics may bring about spinal alignment problems and muscle shortening, therefore causing other muscles to be misused and become painful.

What Are the Symptoms of Musculoskeletal Pain?

People with musculoskeletal pain sometimes complain that their entire bodies ache. Their muscles may feel like they have been pulled or overworked. Sometimes, the muscles twitch or burn. Symptoms vary from person to person, but the common symptoms are:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances

How Is Musculoskeletal Pain Diagnosed?

Your doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination and medical history. In addition, your doctor may perform diagnostic studies to confirm the diagnosis.

How Is Musculoskeletal Pain Treated?

Different types of manual therapy, or mobilization, can be used to treat people with spinal alignment problems. For some acute musculoskeletal pain, these techniques have been shown to speed recovery.

Medications such as nonsteroidal  anti-inflammatories, acetaminophen or opioids may be used to treat inflammation or pain.

In patients with musculoskeletal disorders such as fibromyalgia, medications to increase the body's level of serotonin and norepinephrine (neurotransmitters that modulate sleep, pain, and immune system function) may be prescribed in low doses. Some of the medicines used to aid sleep include zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and ramelteon (Rozerem).

Other treatments may include:

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 02, 2013
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