Do you know that one in two adults in America suffer from musculoskeletal pain? That accounts for almost 70 million visits to the physician’s office annually to treat it.
If you think that the only discomfort that falls into this category is stiffness in your lower back, think again. Some pain can be so debilitating that it disrupts your daily tasks and decreases your quality of life.
There are many options available on the market promising pain relief. Finding the most effective pain treatment method doesn’t have to be hard. But which treatment will give you the best results? Shockwave therapy is a new and emerging method that may tick the box.
This complete guide gives you an overview of the types of musculoskeletal pain and its symptoms. It also provides you with a list of different treatment methods and puts a spotlight on shockwave therapy, so keep reading to find out more!
What Is Musculoskeletal Pain?
Musculoskeletal pain is often described as aches and pains in the body. The pain can be present in the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.Think about musculoskeletal pain as any disturbance to your musculoskeletal system.
Musculoskeletal pain can be localized and experienced in one area of the body, such as your lower back. Or it can be felt in several areas across your entire body.
Some musculoskeletal pain can be mild and short-lived. Sitting at a desk the whole day can cause stiffness in your lower back. But after a few postural adjustments, this type of pain can be easily resolved.
However, commonly musculoskeletal pain is categorized as either acute or chronic pain. Acute pain can be sudden and quite painful such as sprains. Pain that lasts for more than 3 months is called chronic pain and requires a more in-depth treatment plan.
Types of Musculoskeletal Pain
It comes as no surprise that the most frequent type of musculoskeletal pain is lower back pain. Other common types of musculoskeletal pain are:
Muscle pain (known as myalgia): caused by muscle injury, cramps, spasms, loss of blood flow, or possible infection or a tumor. Muscle pain is less severe than bone pain, but it can affect a wider area.
Bone pain: caused by a bone fracture, resulting from an injury, bone infection, osteoporosis, or tumors. The pain often is deep and dull.
Tendon and Ligament pain: caused by injuries such as wear and tear or sprains. They can either happen by an unexpected sudden movement or can be a result of overuse. Inflammation is the most prominent sign of tendon or ligament pain.
Joint pain (known as arthralgia): caused by joint inflammation. Swelling, restricted range of motion, and stiffness are often present with joint pain. Arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, can be severe and long-lasting.
Chest pain: caused by an inflammation of the cartilage that connects ribs to the breastbone (sternum). Costochondritis is accounted for 30% of the causes of musculoskeletal chest pain. Inflammation in the cartilage delivers sharp pain which can be either slow or sudden.
Nerve pain: caused by compression on a nerve. Found in conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, or tarsal tunnel syndrome. The frequent cause of nerve compression is overuse. It can bring tingling and radiating sensations to the body.
Fibromyalgia is described as soreness in the whole body. It occurs due to pain in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Because the pain can be widespread, it is hard to determine where it started. Fatigue, poor quality of sleep, or migraines are also present while battling fibromyalgia.
The origin of musculoskeletal pain can be hard to pinpoint. The cause of the pain can be a recent injury, such as a sprain, or repetitive use of a specific muscle or a joint. Regardless of the source of the pain, the physical limitations and uncomfortable symptoms can be frustrating for many.
Signs and Symptoms
Musculoskeletal pain can be a result of tears in ligaments and tendons, muscle cramps, or bone fractures. Therefore, the signs can be anything from stiffness, soreness, aches, and muscle twitches, to reduced range of motion (ROM), bruising, or swelling.
However, all types of musculoskeletal pain have those four symptoms in common:
- Fatigue – a weakness that can affect the ability to perform day-to-day activities
- Pain – which can be acute or chronic in nature, short or long-lived, and it can be localized or widespread
- Inflammation – tenderness and swelling that can be present in the affected area or areas
- Sleep – the quality of sleep can be poor if the pain is long-lasting or not managed
Identifying the symptoms is a starting point in picking the right treatment method. There is nothing worse than spending a fortune on different treatments and still not seeing positive results. In addition, selecting the best method can relieve the debilitating pain in a shorter time. So, what options do you have?
Musculoskeletal Pain Treatment Methods
Since there are many causes for musculoskeletal pain, some treatment options may need to be more invasive than others. Depending on the type and severity of musculoskeletal pain, a treatment plan can include medication, physical therapies, in-house tools, or even surgery. It can also be a combination of one or a few methods to produce the quickest results.
So what treatment method is best for you?
Medication may be the first treatment method used, especially while treating one-time pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or opioids are all drugs your physician can prescribe.
If your medication is ineffective, corticosteroid injection to the painful area may be recommended. The procedure aims to reduce inflammation before offering other treatment methods.
Although taking either over the counter or prescription drugs can bring instant relief, there is an increased risk of becoming dependent on them. Luckily, apart from medication, patients can turn to a trained therapist for help.
Exercises such as stretching, strengthening, or conditioning can help to alleviate the discomfort. In addition, any activities that are directly causing the symptoms to increase may need to be reduced or stopped. Often ceasing the activity for a designated period can relieve the symptoms and prevent the pain from turning into a chronic condition.
Physical therapy is one of the most effective ways of reducing symptoms and increasing the mobility and flexibility of your body. Manual therapists such as a chiropractor or a physiotherapist can help you to feel less pain and move better.
Many people have used therapeutic massage to treat muscle pain. Massage therapy not only assists with reducing the pain but also promotes relaxation. Although massage therapists cannot massage the area (or areas) with acute inflammation, therapeutic massage can improve your overall state of wellbeing.
If the more traditional therapies are not something you enjoy, there is always a choice of the less traditional approaches such as acupuncture or acupressure.
Outside of medication and manual therapies, some other ways to treat musculoskeletal pain include:
- Hot or cold therapy
- Surgery (in severe instances)
- Shockwave therapy
Musculoskeletal pain can be debilitating and severely disrupt your life, especially if the chronic condition forces you to take time off work. Apart from dull pain and discomfort, musculoskeletal pain can also affect your mental wellbeing. That is why non-invasive therapies, such as shockwave therapy, can be a lifesaver.
A non-invasive pain treatment method that has recently gained popularity is shockwave therapy. Shockwave therapy delivers shock waves to injured soft tissue to decrease pain and boost healing. Shockwave therapy has been successful in the treatment of chronic pain because it can trigger the body’s healing response.
So why should you consider shockwave therapy as your primary pain management method?
Mostly, because of the benefits, this treatment offers in comparison. As a non-invasive treatment, it is safer, easier to apply, and less risky than surgery.
The treatment is performed using a shockwave therapy machine operated by a physiotherapist. After the treatment, there is no downtime required. You can return to work or your other daily activities.
Of course, the main benefit of shockwave therapy is how effective it is in treating physical discomfort. Shockwave therapy increases blood flood to the restricted area, reduces inflammation, deactivates trigger points in your muscles, and restores a healthy communication of your neurotransmitters and your nervous system.
If you are still not convinced that shockwave therapy may be the best solution for you, did we mention that you have an option to try it at home? It is easy to set up and a trained physician can show you how to use it safely. Now you can manage your musculoskeletal pain in the comfort and convenience of your own home.
Management of Musculoskeletal Pain
Are you suffering from musculoskeletal pain? Is the pain so debilitating that it is preventing you from performing your daily activities and enjoying life?
If you are looking for an effective, non-invasive pain treatment method, try shockwave therapy. Contact us today to see how we can help to manage your musculoskeletal discomfort so that you can start living a pain-free life.