Musculoskeletal pain occurs in joints, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Unrealized by many, pain is actually a symptom, not a problem itself; unfortunately, many medical professionals treat pain by immobilizing hurting joints. This approach causes more problems than it resolves; seek orthopedic professionals with an interest in discovering the source of pain and treating the root of the problem to effectively resolve musculoskeletal pain.
Why Musculoskeletal Pain Comes Back
Issues to the musculoskeletal system cause musculoskeletal pain; joints, bones, muscles, tendons can all associated with musculoskeletal disorders. In traditional western medical treatment, the area where pain occurs is viewed via imaging (usually an x-ray); the patient is prescribed pain medicine and is recommended to discontinue use of the injured joint or limb for a period of time. Soon after treatment and patients begin reusing their limbs, the pain returns.
Orthopedists see this scenario play out time and time again; a patient seeks medical intervention due to joint pain. Upon reviewing the patient’s medical history, it is revealed that the patient suffered a previous episode of pain or had a previous injury to a specific joint (injury is one of the common cause of musculoskeletal pain); the prior ailment was “treated” via immobilization in a sling or a brace for a period of four to six weeks.
Following the immobilization period, patients report that their caregiver removes the boot or sling (whatever was being used to stabilize the joint) and declares the patient’s injury to be healed. Patients report being encouraged to resume normal physical activity, which, when they do so, results in renewed pain and problems.
Problems Caused by Joint Immobilization
- Joints after immobilization are weaker due to lack of use
- Muscles atrophy and ligaments stiffen when constrained / not used
- Joint fluid congeals when not in use
- Joints scar during immobilization, which leads to loss of joint mechanics
- Activity after immobilization causes stress
Even your brain’s neurological control over the musculoskeletal group that is immobilized suffers as it becomes clouded due to lack of use in commanding the unused joint. The result is poor coordination following the removal of a sling, boot, or brace.
The culmination of these mental and physical factors is an increased risk of re-injury and of chronic joint pain.
Accurately Addressing Musculoskeletal Pain
The reality is that immobilizers like braces are too often used to remedy the symptom of pain. Problematically, this solution serves two undesirable purposes:
- Braces temporarily silence pain – Pain is a good thing as it communicates that there is a problem; when pain is silenced via bracing or medication, then the patient’s chances for re-injury increase
- Braces can cause joint atrophy – As previously illustrated, lack of use can cause more harm than good in the long run.
The real objective, thus, should be to remedy joint painthrough a thorough assessment of all of the pain-causing structures surrounding the joint. Muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and nerve roots should all be explored in assessing and diagnosing musculoskeletal pain. It is essential to look at the brain’s protective responses associated with a painful point.
Proper assessment must also include looking at the hard-wired protective reflexes that tend to become hyper-aroused when a joint has been hurting for a prolonged period of time. Such reflexes can lead to muscle spasms that persist long after an injury has healed. There is a great deal more to diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal pain than most physicians provide.
As noted, far too many in the medical community are content to image the source of pain, immobilize it, and “treat” it with pain pills. This temporary measure to address musculoskeletal pain is ultimately ineffective.
The physical therapists at the Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center in Florida are determined to facilitate change in these expectations. OSPTC physicians will evaluate the painful joint, will explore the anatomy that could be causing the discomfort, and will determine precisely what is causing the problem.
OSPTC patients don’t sit around waiting for a brace to minimize their pain. At the OSPTC, the process is very patient-involved; patients play an active role in getting rid of their pain, getting moving, and beginning a life free of pain.
With four locations from Crestview to Destin, Florida, the Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center is the place to go for sports injuries and for expedient therapeutic recovery. Become an active participant in mitigating your pain; seek the safe, competent and complete relief offered by the experts at the Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center, LLC where the only thing you’ll need to brace yourself for is quality care.