Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Pain management health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Musculoskeletal pain

Pain affecting the muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones is called musculoskeletal pain.

What causes musculoskeletal pain?

Muscle tissue can be damaged by the wear and tear of daily activities. Trauma to an area - from jerking movements, car accidents, falls, fractures, sprains, dislocations or direct blows to the muscle - can also cause musculoskeletal pain.

Other causes of pain include postural strain, repetitive movements, overuse and prolonged immobilisation. Changes in posture or poor body mechanics may lead to spinal alignment problems and muscle shortening, with the result that other muscles are misused and become painful.

What are the symptoms of musculoskeletal pain?

People with musculoskeletal pain sometimes complain that their entire body aches. Their muscles may feel as if they have been pulled or overworked. Sometimes the muscles twitch or burn. Symptoms vary from person to person, but the common ones are:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances

How is musculoskeletal pain diagnosed?

Your doctor or physiotherapist will conduct a thorough physical examination and take your medical history. Your doctor may also arrange tests to help confirm the diagnosis.

How is musculoskeletal pain treated?

Different types of physical therapy, or mobilisation, can be used to treat people with spinal alignment problems. With acute musculoskeletal pain, these techniques have been shown to speed recovery.

Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are often recommended.

In patients with musculoskeletal disorders such as fibromyalgia, medicines to increase the body's level of serotonin and norepinephrine (neurotransmitters that modulate sleep, pain and immune system function) are prescribed in low doses.

Other treatments may include:

  • Injections with anaesthetic or anti-inflammatory drugs in or around the painful sites
  • Exercise that includes muscle strengthening and stretching
  • Physio or occupational therapy
  • Acupuncture or acupressure
  • Relaxation/biofeedback techniques
  • Osteopathy
  • Chiropractic
  • Therapeutic massage
Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on July 30, 2014

Popular Slideshows & Tools on Boots WebMD

woman looking at pregnancy test
Early pregnancy symptoms
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
smiling african american woman
Best kept secrets for beautiful hair
couple watching sunset
How much do you know?
nappy being changed
How to change your baby's nappy
woman using moisturizer
Causes and home solutions
assorted spices
Pump up the flavour with spices
bag of crisps
Food cravings that wreck your diet
woman with cucumbers on eyes
How to banish dark circles and bags
probiotic shakes
Help digestion
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting