This article will focus on pain associated with the musculoskeletal system such as exercise injuries, tension pain, joint complications and muscle imbalances. This may affect a host of systems within the body acutely or chronically – bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and even cartilage. We aim to briefly explore the causes and different tools available for pain management.
47% of our population suffer from some form of muscle and joint pain. Of those individuals, 39-45% suffer from long lasting problems that require professional consultation. Therefore, the demand for skilled biomechanical testing and analysis is steadily increasing.
Smoking has been identified as a risk factor for musculoskeletal pain – Other risk factors include: lower educational status, sedentary lifestyle, poor or limited social interactions, low income, insomnia or sleep disorders, anxiety, depression & manual labour.
“Niggles” are early injuries that should not be ignored. It is important to know when we can treat it ourselves and when it may be an indication of something more serious.
Most often, when injury pain lessens with movement or after being “warmed up” this is a good sign. If pain is accompanied by weakness of the extremity, numbness that radiates down your arms or legs, or a burning sensation, it is considered a red flag. Expect more pain when exposed to colder temperatures, and try to differentiate between the different types of pain. As an example the type of pain experienced from muscle tension vs. nerve impingement is quite different and being able to distinguish is vital for the rehabilitative process.
If you suffer from stiffness or pain and it gets better, mostly you do not need to see a professional. But if it is something that does not get better despite remedies such as over the counter drugs or rehabilitative exercise, seek professional help.
It is also important to note that if you wish to manage pain in the long term, the answer is specific, rehabilitative exercise to correct the “root cause”. If your back or neck is affected by muscle tension, anti-inflammatories and pain medication will only treat the symptoms and not the root cause.
Pain may be a deceptive method in diagnosing the root cause, if you experience lower back pain, yes you experience pain in that region but the root cause may be an anterior pelvic tilt, knotted muscles in the surrounding areas, a weak mid spinal region, muscle tension, muscle imbalances or a combination of them all.
Most often, causes of muscle pain are related to tension, muscle injury from exercise, physically demanding work, and muscle imbalances.
When your pain is not serious there are a few “common sense” therapies you can try in order to manage your pain:
- Stretching and exercising specific for muscle pain and stiffness together with a functional exercise routine to improve your posture;
- A deep tissue or sports massage;
- Seek professional analysis and treatment if this does not help – make an appointment with your doctor or with Urban Wellbeing for an advanced biomechanical assessment;
- Maintaining a healthy body mass index – simply losing weight will drastically reduce the wear and tear of your joints and prevent excess wear of cartilage and the development of further imbalances.
- Cut down on sugary foods – avoiding high G.I. nutrients and refined sugars will lessen water retention, swelling of the joints and overall inflammation.
- Topical treatments such as ice packs and epsom salts in a warm bath;
- In more severe cases, over the counter anti-inflammatories may be necessary.
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Disclaimer – Urban wellbeing and its associates offers health and fitness information and is designed for educational and entertainment purposes only. You should consult your physician or general practitioner before beginning a new fitness program. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, you should always consult with a physician, general practitioner, or other qualified healthcare professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have read in our publications or lectures. The use of information provided though the urban wellness service is solely at your own risk and is not medical or healthcare advice.
REFERENCES: Management of Musculoskeletal Pain: An Update with Emphasis on Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain – Salah N. El-Tallawy,1,2 Rohit Nalamasu,3 Gehan I. Salem,4,5 Jo Ann K. LeQuang,6 Joseph V. Pergolizzi,6 and Paul J. Christo7