Over time, everything wears down due to age and frequent use – coins, tires, furniture, toys, books … as well as our muscles, bones, and joints.
There’s no getting around the fact that as we age, our risk of developing painful musculoskeletal disorders increases. These disorders involve the muscles, bones, and related tissues.
In addition to age, other factors can increase your risk of developing painful orthopedic injuries. These include your family history, occupation, lifestyle, and certain activities – such as lifting heavy weights, repetitive motions, or poor posture.
Frequently Treated Musculoskeletal Disorders
The first step to maintaining healthy muscles, bones, and joints is knowing what problems to look for so you can avoid or treat them properly. The most common orthopedic disorders include:
This is an inflammation of a tendon – the fibrous tissues that connect a muscle to a bone. It can especially affect your shoulder, elbow, ankle, or wrist.
Usually referred to as just “arthritis,” this is a condition in which cartilage – the rubbery protective tissue at the end of your bones – gradually wears down. This can result in joint pain in the hands, neck, lower back, knees, or hips.
With rheumatoid arthritis (RA), your body’s immune system attacks its own cells. If left untreated, RA can erode the bones and cause deformity in the joints, such as the fingers. RA affects joint cartilage first, but the inflammation can spread to other organs throughout the body.
Trauma, overuse, and disease can weaken your bones – sometimes to the point of causing a complete or partial break. Not only is a bone fracture painful, but it can also result in a temporary loss of functionality in an arm, leg, foot, or hand.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Essentially a pinched nerve in your wrist, carpal tunnel is often caused by repetitive hand use or extreme flexion or extension of the hand or wrist. It can result in numbness and tingling in your hand or arm. If left untreated, it can develop into permanent damage and disability.
This condition involves widespread muscle pain and tenderness. It is often accompanied by fatigue that can adversely affect your sleep habits, memory, and mood.
Symptoms of Orthopedic Disorders
While the severity of musculoskeletal disorders may vary, they can cause recurrent pain, joint stiffness, swelling, and dull aches. This can limit your range of motion and interfere with important daily activities such as walking, typing, lifting, and holding objects.
That’s why it’s important to consult your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of a musculoskeletal issue. Your physician will conduct a physical examination checking your reflexes (for nerve damage), pain sensitivity, redness, swelling, muscle weakness, and atrophy. If necessary, your doctor also will order imaging tests to examine your bones and soft tissues, or blood tests to check for rheumatic diseases.
Treatments for Musculoskeletal Problems
If an orthopedic disorder is diagnosed, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan. This may range from moderate exercise and over-the-counter medications (like ibuprofen and anti-inflammation medications) to physical and/or occupational therapy.
You can help prevent musculoskeletal disorders by developing healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising and stretching regularly to keep your bones, joints, and muscles strong. You can also take some safety measures such as minimizing repetitive motions, lifting heavy objects carefully, and maintaining good posture to prevent back pain.
Who Can Treat My Musculoskeletal Issue?
At Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland, we offer many noninvasive treatment options for diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal-related pain. We will work with you every step of the way to improve your well-being.
Contact us today by calling (410) 644-1880 or fill out our appointment request form online, and let our team help you start enjoying a more pain-free, active lifestyle again!