Understanding Musculoskeletal Pain

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

sling
Obviously, this course of care (injury, immobilization, reuse) is problematic for several logical reasons:

  • 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.

The Ability of an MDI to Diagnose Pain

MDIs or Multidirectional Instability injuries are highly common afflictions that occur both as the result of significant trauma and simply in general. Looking at an MDI to diagnose pain can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack; only by getting to the root of the problem through a proper physical assessment can pain be properly assessed and treated.

What is MDI?

MDI or Multidirectional Instability is a common affliction of the shoulder. It is a joint disorder than can impact anyone –not just those who have experienced trauma or who have dislocated their shoulder, as many commonly believe. Realistically, MDI can afflict anyone who has not used or who has recently started extensively using his or her shoulder joints after a period of non-use.

The result is a sense of looseness or laxity in which the shoulder joint might be subject so sliding in and out of place (hence the assumption about dislocation).

Diagnosing Pain with an MDI

Problematically, MDI pain is somewhat indistinguishable from other forms of pain. For example, signs and symptoms of an MDI:

  • Pain is typically experienced during an activity
  • Pain when lifting or moving objects
  • Pain during or following exercise
  • A sensation of weakness
  • A sensation of shoulder movement
  • Popping or clicking in the shoulder when movement occurs
  • Tingling or numbing to the afflicted arm
  • Fatigue following activity
  • Loss of performance

It is for these reasons –the fact that the problem can so easily masquerade as something else, that a proper diagnosis is necessary. Only through a targeted discussion regarding the pain and with a detailed physical examination can a proper diagnosis be achieved.

Selecting the Right Care

Respective to diagnosis and treatment, it is essential to take your concerns to the correct type of doctor for your ailment. Just as you wouldn’t seek input from a cardiologist regarding a suspicious mole on your forearm, you should also not consult an internist or surgeon or any other type of specialist regarding physical pain other than an orthopedist.

While these medical doctors are very skilled in their areas of expertise, they have a tendency to misdiagnose ailments due to their exclusive reliance on imaging technologies like MRI and X-ray. While imaging is useful in assisting a diagnosis, it should not be the only resource (as is often the case among non-orthopedic professionals).

Further, pain medication and / or surgery are often the prescribed treatment solutions among some medical professionals. This, too, is problematic. Treatment through physical therapy, which is the result of an accurate diagnosis of the cause of pain, is both safer and more effective.

At the Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center in Florida, your MDI pain will be treated with proper attention and respect. Our mission is to diagnose the source of your pain using a series of healthy, noninvasive assessments proven to adequately understand what is causing your pain and further—to understand the cause of your MDI so continued injury and pain can be avoided.

At OSPTC, we listen to you and invite you to be a participant in your healing and recovery process. If you’re ready to stop hurting, come see the wise, experienced, and conscientious health professionals at OSPTC.

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. The careful, respectful, and attentive physical assessment of the causes of pain is a specialty of the professionals at Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center, LLC. Their experienced, comprehensive approach to pain diagnosis and treatment will have you feeling better, longer in no time.

Seeing is Believing: Pain Isn’t Always Visible

Far too often, patients experiencing pain are prematurely convinced of a narrative perpetuated as a result of imaging (ex: an MRI revealed a bone spur); however, some ailments are normal products of aging and other factors meaning they may not be the causes of pain at all. Only by using a skilled observational approach, such as those implemented at OSPTC, can the causes of pain accurately be identified.

Why Musculoskeletal Pain Comes Back

The problem with western medicine or medicine performed in the United States is that there is an apparent failure to or at least a failure to attempt to understand the causes of pain and to treat that pain at its source. Believe it or not, despite their comprehensive training, most doctors receive very little educational support in diagnosing and treating pain-causing disorders. This claim is supported in a recent publication titled, A Nation in Pain: Healing Our biggest Health Problem, by Judy Foreman.

girl-leg-painIn her work, Judy claims, “Pain is a bigger problem than heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, combined!” This is the problem that I experience on a daily basis; patients come in to the clinic with an issue that is causing pain. They have already been processed through a system that merits seeing a medical doctor at which point they get an MRI or X-ray, and taking pain pills; the subsequent prescription is for pain pills for anywhere from four to six weeks, yet the results yield no evident relief.

I find it interesting that when I first meet with a patient and inquire, “What are you here for today?” that the answer is always the same. Responses I receive such as, “I have herniated disc,” and “I have a bone spur,” reveal that the patient has already received professional medical information that leads them to believe they are broken.

To this I ask ‘why?’ Just because one has been told that an MRI or X-ray shows an anatomical variation, which invariably must be the cause of their pain that does not make it so. The reality is that most changes seen on an MRI or X-ray show normal changes within the human body that are the result of aging but that have no bearing on pain.

The Placebo Effect

Considering the following claim that MRIs and X-rays are no good at diagnosing pain complaints. Those are useful only if my therapist and I are unable to find anything wrong during our routine therapy exam. The real problem is that once you have viewed your X-ray or MRI, you start to believe that what is happening is abnormal and the cause of your problems. Once you start to believe this, it is difficult to remove your pain through conventional intervention.

This is because 30% of any treatment is placebo, which means that if something is meant to work, it will work to a degree of up to 30% because you’re relying on the narrative that it is intended to work (and therefore, it must work). On the contrary, if you do not believe the placebo narrative, there is a 30% higher likelihood that any proposed intervention that it will not work.

The Significance

So, why is this issue concerning? It’s problematic because 30% of treatment left subject to the placebo effect is actually the most important part of any treatment you try. In other words, if you visit a surgeon or physician and are made to believe that you have a bone spur, then you will not believe that any treatment for any ailment other than a bone spur is beneficial.

Thus, before you accept the diagnosis resulting from imaging or even another MD or chiropractor, consider the healthy, non-invasive, results-driven alternative approach of a physical therapist at the Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center (OSPTC), and let their doctors figure out why you are really in pain, and let them help you fix it.

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. Rather than relying on images, these medical experts read your body’s signals to understand what problematic before treating real issues. Let Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center, LLC diagnose, treat, and resolve issues causing you pain.