Musculoskeletal disorders are also known as MSD's and are extremely common in today’s society. The term refers to minor physical disabilities affecting various parts of the body collectively or singularly. The term can refer to the muscles, bones or joints and can vary in severity depending on the person suffering from the condition.
The symptoms associated with the condition may well affect a person's quality of life and interfere with their day to day activities. Conditions like this affect a huge proportion of the population and statistics show that the older you are, the more likely you are to be at risk of an MSD. Evidence shows that the earlier a person is diagnosed with an MSD, the earlier the symptoms can be alleviated and prevented from causing further physical damage.
Generally, an MSD can affect any major area of the body including; the neck, shoulders, wrists, back, hips, legs, knees and feet. There are so many areas of the human body that comprises of the musculoskeletal system, which means various other conditions can create the symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders. These conditions include;
Some of these conditions can be mild; others can cause life-altering pain. The most common MSD suffered by the general population is lower back pain.
There are a huge amount of activities, factors and conditions with can cause an MSD. Your age, job, lifestyle and amount of exercise you take part in all contribute to the cause of an MSD. Particular activities can cause stress on the musculoskeletal system which increases the likelihood of contracting an MSD over time.
Certain sports can place stress and strain on the body, just as repetitive activities and sedentary positions can. Poor posture and lack of movement throughout the day can be just as bad for the body as enduring a strenuous activity without physical warm up or preparation. Certain professions are more at risk of MSD's than others. Seated attendants, lorry drivers, office workers, freight handlers, physical labourers and nurses can all be at a higher risk of an MSD because of the job they perform.
MSD's also commonly affect people as they get older. Because of the statistics showing that the older a person is, the more likely they are to have an MSD; many medical professionals believe that age is a direct cause of MSD's. However, although our physical strength and form will become poorer over time, it doesn't necessarily mean that age definitely guarantees the onset of an MSD. It has been proven that a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and practising good physical habits like sitting with proper posture, lifting heavy weights properly and keeping muscles worked and stretched regularly in our younger years can reduce our likelihood of contracting an MSD as we age.
There are various symptoms of MSD's. They may cause pain when you do everyday tasks, stopping you walking with ease or even getting dressed comfortably. You may notice you struggle to move with as much ease as you used to, and struggle to be as active as you once were. If you think you are suffering from an MSD, it is important you visit your GP as soon as possible to achieve a diagnosis and start treatment.
If you suspect you have an MSD your doctor will try to pinpoint exactly what the main cause of your pain or discomfort is. You can expect a physical examination, chat about how your symptoms are affecting you and some possible diagnostics like scans, X-rays or blood tests. The GP will be looking out for signs of muscle weakness and lack of reflexes in certain areas. There may be swelling or inflammation of certain areas which can indicate arthritis, gout or osteoarthritis.
The treatment of an MSD is incredibly personal and depends on the person. For some, medications and physiotherapy may work, for others the treatment may be a lot more complex and involve specific medicine combinations and a change of lifestyle. For more information, read out guide on musculoskeletal physiotherapy.
MSD's can be prevented with simple changes, especially in people under the age of 40. It is crucial that you look at your activities and lifestyle in order to prevent an MSD. A lack of exercise, bad diet and performing certain activities in a damaging way (lifting incorrectly, working at a computer with bad posture etc) can all contribute to heightening your risk of getting an MSD. Essentially, although age will increase your likelihood of getting an MSD, there is a lot you can decrease your risk of getting one as well.