If you’re suffering from pain in your muscles or joints, it’s important to get the right treatment to get you out of pain and ensure the problem doesn’t get any worse.
However, treatments vary depending on how serious the problem is. In this article we’ll look at 4 ways musculoskeletal problems can be treated.
What is musculoskeletal pain?
The musculoskeletal system – as the name suggests – comprises your muscles, skeleton, and any related structures which support the skeleton and help it to move, such as tendons and ligaments.
If it hurts when you move a certain joint, such as your knee or neck, or if your muscles ache or are swollen, then that is musculoskeletal pain.
Let’s take a look at 4 levels of treatment that are available:
The most basic level of treatment is looking after yourself. If you have an aching muscle or joint but you don’t think it’s too serious – for example if your muscle aches after going for a run – then you can take various measures to treat yourself at home.
This generally means things like rest, stretching, massaging the affected area, or the use of heat and ice packs. Staying generally healthy will also help your recovery, so eat well and get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol or smoking.
Although self-care is important, if your problem persists beyond a few days and doesn’t feel like it’s getting any better, then consult a medical professional. If in doubt, always get personal advice from an expert, like a doctor or physiotherapist.
Physical therapists are qualified in providing treatment for musculoskeletal pain such as back pain and sporting injuries within using drugs or invasive procedures. They include professions such physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists and podiatrists.
Because a physical therapist specializes in problems with the musculoskeletal system, they are more likely to be able to help you without having to resort to more medical-based procedures They will also normally also give you exercises, stretches and so on that will help you to recover and to rehabilitate the affected area.
Physical therapists use hands-on techniques like massage, joint mobilization and manipulation and stretching. Some also use other therapies as part of their treatment, such as acupuncture or shockwave therapy.
If a problem is more serious, you may be referred to a cortisone injection clinic for a corticosteroid injection. Steroid injections help with more severe cases of musculoskeletal pain by rapidly reducing swelling and pain.
Steroid injections are a more invasive and risky procedure and you cannot simply refer yourself for a steroid injection. Either your doctor will advise you that they think it is a good idea for your case, or you can go to a private clinic who will assess and examine you before telling you whether they think it is advisable.
Injection clinics often also use ultrasound machines. In the first instance this is diagnostic ultrasound, which is used to assess your condition or injury to see if injection treatment is the right option for you. If you do go ahead with injection treatment, many clinics will also use ultrasound to guide the injection, ensuring that the injection is applied precisely to the area where it will have the most benefit.
Although they provide effective relief from pain, steroids come with their own risks, and it is important you understand these before going ahead with treatment. Your doctor or healthcare practitioner will explain the pros and cons and guide you to understanding the right treatment for you.
If you are suffering from a longer-term, debilitating or structural problem, the most invasive form of treatment is surgery on the affected area. Generally this is only considered in more serious cases where conservative forms of treatment have failed.
There are various types of surgery that may be used for a musculoskeletal problem, depending on the nature of the problem. These may include:
- Replacing a joint, such as your hip or knee
- Removing a spinal disc to reduce pressure on a nerve
- Fusing together bones or vertebrae for greater stability
- Surgical repair of muscles or tendons
Most of us will suffer from musculoskeletal pain at some point during our lives. The type of treatment to use varies widely depending on the nature of the problem and how serious it is. Although some minor injuries can be treated at home, it is always best to get a professional assessment so you can ensure your problem is correctly diagnosed, and get the right treatment for you.