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Overview:

Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain affects different structures of the body including the nerves, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and bones.

In the United States, trauma, arthritis (or joint) pain, and back pain are the three most common sources of musculoskeletal pain that people seek medical attention for. Musculoskeletal conditions have surpassed respiratory and circulatory diseases in terms of yearly documented cases in the U.S., and the large population of elderly Americans experiencing these conditions is putting pressure on the country’s healthcare system.

What is musculoskeletal pain?

It can be experienced as pain in one part of the body (such as back pain or neck pain), or it can be felt as a widespread pain condition (classified as “fibromyalgia”).

Some of the most common parts of the body affected by musculoskeletal pain include: hips, back, shoulders, neck, wrists, knees, legs, and feet.

Depending on the underlying musculoskeletal disorder/disease/condition, pain can be acute and can increase rapidly. In some cases, pain can develop over a period of time and last from months to years. This kind of pain is classified as chronic musculoskeletal pain.

What causes musculoskeletal pain?

Musculoskeletal pain can affect people of all ages as the causes of this type of pain are often varied. The main causes of musculoskeletal pain can be divided into: Musculoskeletal disorders and Non-musculoskeletal reasons.

There are over 150 different types of musculoskeletal disorders that affect the structures of the body – bones, muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons.

Primary disorders include:

Non-musculoskeletal factors also cause pain in the bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints, such as:

  • Prolonged time of inactivity (such as a recuperative period after a surgery or illness)
  • Tumors that put pressure on the structures of the body
  • Infections to the bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints
  • Overuse of the bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints
  • Infections to the soft tissues
  • Side effects of medications
  • Lyme’s disease
  • Poor posture

What are the different types of musculoskeletal pain?

The most common type of musculoskeletal pain is experienced in the lower back pain, although there are other common conditions that produce musculoskeletal pain. They include:

  • Nerve compression pain (due to medical issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tarsal tunnel syndrome)
  • Bone pain due to an injury (such as a dislocation, fracture, tumor, hormonal issue or infection)
  • Muscle pain (caused by an infection, injury, autoimmune disorder, spasm, cramp, tumor, etc.
  • Tendon or ligament pain due to sprains, strains, muscle pulls, inflammation, etc. (such as tendonitis)
  • Widespread pain throughout the body (fibromyalgia)
  • Joint pain (due to different types of arthritis)

What are the symptoms of musculoskeletal pain?

The most common symptoms of musculoskeletal pain include:

  • Pain (experienced in one region of the body or experienced throughout the body)
  • Sensations of twitching or burning in the muscles
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Aches in the entire body
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Disturbances in sleep
  • Fatigue

In some types of musculoskeletal pain, the pain may be experienced along neural pathways and can be experienced as a burning sensation. With this condition, often simple movements (such as stretching) can increase levels of pain.

What are the risk factors associated with musculoskeletal pain?

There are several factors that increase the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders, such as:

  • Repetitive movements involving specific parts of the body
  • Improper workplace ergonomics
  • Forceful or jerky movements
  • Increased pressure on specific regions/organs of the body
  • Long periods of inactivity
  • Poor posture

What are the complications associated with musculoskeletal pain?

Musculoskeletal injuries or disorders often produce debilitating, chronic pain although they are rarely life-threatening. A proper evaluation and treatment plan is recommended to ensure there are no further complications associated with a musculoskeletal pain condition. Common complications include:

  • Acute kidney injury due to any musculoskeletal trauma that releases myoglobin into the system
  • Skeletal system trauma
  • Internal torso injuries
  • Acute compartment syndrome due to pressure caused by internal bleeding or inflammation
  • Soft tissue trauma

When should I see a doctor for musculoskeletal pain?

Although the causes of musculoskeletal pain can be as simple as bad posture or overuse of certain muscles, there are certain symptoms that can indicate a need to consult your physician immediately. They include:

  • Rash in the site of the injury/pain (a bull’s-eye target-shaped rash can be indicative of Lyme’s disease)
  • Constant pain for longer than 3 days
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Increased pain during activities
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Unexplained pain
  • High fever
  • Stiffness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Sudden gain in weight
  • Infrequent urination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Rash in the site of the injury/pain (a bull’s-eye target-shaped rash can be indicative of Lyme’s disease)
  • Constant pain for longer than 3 days
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Increased pain during activities
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Unexplained pain
  • High fever
  • Stiffness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Sudden gain in weight
  • Infrequent urination
  • Muscle weakness

In some conditions, the pain will seem to originate from a specific part of the body but the root cause of the pain is in another part of the body (known as “referred pain”) – such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, spleen, etc.

If you are in pain, there is no need to wait. Contact Advanced Pain Care at 512-244-4272 or at www.austinpaindoctor.com to schedule a same or next day appointment with one of our physicians in Pain Management, Rheumatology, Orthopedics and/or Neurosurgery.

How is musculoskeletal pain diagnosed?

To accurately diagnose the condition causing a patient’s musculoskeletal pain, the physicians at Advanced Pain Care will approach the evaluation in the following way:

  • Work to understand the actual condition(s) that triggered the pain (injury, illness, etc.) along with the mechanics of the trauma.
  • Analyze past medical history (history of injuries/illnesses, medications, morbidities) and review current symptoms in more detail
  • Perform a physical examination to understand how symptoms are being expressed. This examination(s) will help your physician understand the location of the pain while narrowing down the range of possible causes and can include:
    • Inspect for any deformities, discolorations, or inflammation
    • Establish areas of tenderness
    • Assess range of motion
    • Conduct neurovascular examination
  • Conduct addition tests if needed (blood, X-rays, CT scans, and/or MRI’s)

Based on their findings, your physician(s) will work to diagnose the cause and type of pain you are experiencing along with a comprehensive treatment plan.

How is musculoskeletal pain treated?

The treatment of musculoskeletal pain at Advanced Pain Care is provided by a team of specialists. The specialties offered at Advanced Pain Care include Pain Management, Rheumatology, Orthopedics and Neurosurgery.

Acute musculoskeletal pain should initially be treated with medication to reduce pain and inflammation along with rest, ice, compression and elevation (the “R.I.C.E.” method)

In the case of an underlying disease/condition, the treatment of musculoskeletal pain is based on the location and severity of the pain along with any additional conditions, diseases or complications being experienced by the patient. Treatment options for musculoskeletal pain include:

  1. In the case of fibromyalgia, medications to increase neurotransmitters in the brain to help modulate sleep and modify pain responses
  2. Use of splints, braces, lumbar supports, orthotics, etc.
  3. Application of heat/ice
  4. Physical Therapy
  5. Injections with anti-inflammatory or anesthetic medications
  6. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  7. Pain Medications
  8. Occupational Therapy
  9. Lifestyle modifications

For those experiencing severe or chronic pain, surgery is considered as the last option. Different surgical procedures used to address musculoskeletal pain include:

  1. Laminectomy
  2. Soft tissue and cartilage repair
  3. Joint replacement
  4. Arthroscopy

What precautions can I take to prevent musculoskeletal pain?

Preventing musculoskeletal pain when the underlying causes are not a disease or disorder can be simple. Several steps can be taken to avoid musculoskeletal pain from occurring include:

Ensuring proper ergonomics at home or work

Understanding (and preventing) occupational or activity-related injuries

Applying lifestyle modifications where required

Recognizing the signs and symptoms

Also keep in mind the importance of early intervention and medical assistance to ensure a condition does not get worse and lead to additional symptoms and pain. If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of musculoskeletal pain, schedule a same or next day appointment with the pain management specialists at Advanced Pain Care. Visit https://austinpaindoctor.com/ or call 512-244-4272 for more information.

FAQs

Q: How is musculoskeletal pain treated?

A: Musculoskeletal pain should initially be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications to reduce any pain or inflammation, along with rest, ice, compression and elevation.

For underlying disorders or diseases, the treatment of musculoskeletal can include:

  • Use of splints, braces, lumbar supports, orthotics, etc.
  • Application of heat/ice
  • Physical Therapy
  • Injections with anti-inflammatory or anesthetic medications
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Pain Medications
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Lifestyle Modifications
  • Medications to increase neurotransmitters in the brain (to help modulate sleep and modify the response to pain) – in cases of fibromyalgia

For chronic musculoskeletal pain, surgical options include laminectomy, soft tissue and cartilage repair, joint replacement, and arthroscopy.

Q: How long can musculoskeletal pain last?

A: Musculoskeletal pain can last from several days to several years or more depending on the underlying disorder/disease and treatment(s) provided. Acute pain often resolves itself quickly while pain lasting for several months would be classified as “chronic”.

Q: What kinds of doctors treat musculoskeletal pain?

A: Depending on the diagnosis, pain treatments at Advanced Pain Care may also be delivered by pain management physicians, rheumatologists, orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons.

Q: What are examples of musculoskeletal pain?

A: The most common type of musculoskeletal pain is lower back pain. There are other types of musculoskeletal pain which are also common and include:

  • Bone pain due to an injury – usually as a dislocation, fracture, tumor, hormonal issue or infection
  • Joint pain (due to different types of arthritis)
  • Widespread pain throughout the body (fibromyalgia)
  • Muscle pain caused by an infection, injury, autoimmune disorder, spasm, cramps, tumors, etc.
  • Tendon or ligament pain (due to sprains, strains, muscle pulls, inflammation, etc.)
  • Nerve compression pain due to medical issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome and/or tarsal tunnel syndrome

Q: What does musculoskeletal pain feel like?

A: In some types of musculoskeletal pain, the pain may be experienced along neural pathways and can be experienced as a burning sensation. Often, simple movements such as stretching can aggravate the pain.

The most common symptoms of musculoskeletal pain include:

  • Pain (experienced in one region of the body or experienced throughout the body)
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sensations of twitching or burning in the muscles
  • Aches in the entire body
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Muscle pain and stiffness

Q: How do you get rid of musculoskeletal pain?

A: Musculoskeletal pain, depending on the underlying causes, can be treated in a variety of ways. Treatment options can range from non-invasive procedures to surgical options based on the location of the pain in the body and the levels and length of time the pain has been experienced. Pain treatments can also include:

  • Use of splints, braces, lumbar supports, orthotics, etc.
  • Application of heat/ice
  • Physical Therapy
  • Injections with anti-inflammatory or anesthetic medications
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Pain medications

  • Occupational therapy
  • Lifestyle modifications
  • (In the case of fibromyalgia) medications to increase neurotransmitters in the brain (to help modulate sleep and modify the body’s response to pain)

For those experiencing severe or chronic pain, surgery is considered as a last option. Different surgical procedures used to address musculoskeletal pain include:

  • Laminectomy
  • Soft tissue and cartilage repair
  • Joint replacement
  • Arthroscopy

Q: What are some examples of musculoskeletal disorders?

A: There are over 150 different types of musculoskeletal disorders can affect various parts of the body (including bones, muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons) which often produce pain. The most common disorders include:

  • Different types of arthritis – osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis,
    lupus, gout, etc.
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sarcopenia or muscle loss
  • Scoliosis and other issues with the bones and joints
  • Fractures, sprains, dislocations, etc. caused by injuries

Q: What are the common signs and symptoms associated with musculoskeletal system disorders?

A: The most common signs and symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders include the following:

  • Pain (experienced in one region of the body or experienced throughout the body)
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Inflammation
  • Soreness
  • Redness
  • Impaired function(s)
  • Tenderness
  • Fatigue
  • Disturbances in sleep
  • Sensations of twitching or burning in the muscles
  • Aches in the entire body
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Feeling of pulled muscles

In some types of musculoskeletal pain, the pain may be experienced along the path of the nerves and be experienced as a burning sensation.

Musculoskeletal Pain Treatment

Downloadable Resources

Are You Experiencing Pain?

If you are experiencing any back pain or stiffness, call Advanced Pain Care at 512-244-4272 to schedule an appointment with one of our pain care and management specialists.

We have a range of pain management treatment options available right from surgical interventions to non-invasive and minimally invasive treatment options. Our team will work with you to develop a pain management plan based on the severity of your condition.