Acute & chronic musculoskeletal disorders health facts
The musculoskeletal system refers to the combination of bones, joints, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, muscles and other connective tissues that support the human body and keep it in motion.
Musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica occur for a variety of reasons including repetitive motion, awkward posture, overuse or an injury.
Acute disorders require immediate medical attention and can result from trauma, such as a sprain that occurs during a sporting event, or a severe flare-up of a condition. Chronic musculoskeletal disorders exist long-term and require repeated medical attention to reduce a patient’s symptoms and increase mobility.
Acute and chronic musculoskeletal disorders affect areas of the body differently and can cause discomfort, pain, range of motion problems and restricted activity. Just as each person’s muscles and bones are different, so are their injuries and treatment options.
HealthFit’s approach to injuries and pain within the musculoskeletal system
Our approach to treatment of such disorders begins with a thorough examination, using our hands and knowledge of the body as well as imaging equipment if needed. We begin with the least invasive treatments, avoiding prescribed medication if possible. Our goal is to restore the patient’s activity levels and quality of life, addressing the source of the problem rather than simply masking the symptoms.
We diagnose musculoskeletal problems such as bone dislocations, fractures or other problems often related to injury. We have a sports medicine specialist in house to treat musculoskeletal injuries, but refer to specialists for surgical needs or more complex cases.
Jump to a topic:
- Shoulder pain & injury.
- Elbow pain & injury.
- Wrist & hand pain & injury.
- Hip pain & injury.
- Knee & leg pain & injury.
- Foot & ankle pain & injury.
- Back & neck pain & injury.
- Treatment for acute & chronic musculoskeletal issues.
Shoulder pain & injury
The shoulder joint, on the most basic level, is a ball and socket joint. The structure of the joint is actually quite complex, as the shoulder joint allows for a great range of motion. The shoulder joint consists of three parts: the scapula or shoulder blade, the humerus or upper arm bone, and the clavicle or collarbone.
The rotator cuff is a collection of tendons that support the shoulder joint, helping it to move. All of the elements of the shoulder are subject to injury. The most common causes of pain and injury in the shoulder follow.
Arthritis can cause swelling, pain and stiffness in all of the joints, including the shoulder, leading to joint and tissue damage. Over 100 types of arthritis can affect the body and though the symptoms vary, swelling, pain and stiffness in the joint are most common.
Bursitis occurs when the bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction between the tendons, muscles and bones, become inflamed. It is most commonly found in the shoulder, hip and elbow, and is often the result of repetitive, strenuous activity
Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition where the connective tissue around the shoulder becomes thicker or tighter, causing pain, stiffness and restricted range of motion in the shoulder joint.
Tendinitis is inflammation within the tendons. The tendons connect the muscle to the bone and can become inflamed from overuse or acute injury. Tendinitis symptoms include pain and some loss of motion in the shoulder joint.
Rotator cuff tear
A rotator cuff tear occurs when one of the four rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder tears due to repetitive motion or sudden injury. Severe rotator cuff tears like complete tears must often be surgically repaired, however, partial tears and tendinitis of the rotator cuff can be managed without surgery. Pain, weakness in the shoulder joint and difficulty raising the arm overhead are the most common symptoms.
Sprains occur when the ligaments, which are the bands of tissue connecting joints to bones, become stretched or torn within the shoulder joint. Sprains vary and are categorized into three degrees of severity: stretched, partially torn and completely torn.
Strain refers to a situation in a which a muscle or tendon within the shoulder has become stretched or torn. Also ranked in three degrees of severity, the most common symptoms of a strain are pain and swelling.
Labrum tear (SLAP)
Labrum tear (SLAP) occurs when the labrum, the ring of cartilage surrounding the shoulder socket, becomes injured. Symptoms include pain, weakness, or popping and clicking in the shoulder.
Impingement occurs when parts of the shoulder, typically the tendons and bursa sacs, become inflamed from rubbing together. Symptoms include aching pain and pain when raising the arm out laterally or raising the arm in front of the body.
Elbow pain & injury
The elbow is the joint that connects the humerus, or the upper arm bone, to the radius and ulna, the two bones that form the lower portion of the arm. The elbow not only allows the forearm to bend and extend, but is also largely responsible for the rotation of the wrist and hand. The three arm bones meet and essentially notch together through the complex structures that make up the ends of the humerus, radius and ulna. Following are the most common musculoskeletal disorders that affect the elbow.
Tennis elbow, or extensor tendinopathy, is the result of overuse of the forearm, hand or other arm muscles causing injury of the tendons on the outer area of the elbow. Tennis elbow is marked by pain on the outside of the elbow, in the forearm and wrist that worsens with activity.
Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis or flexor tendinopathy, is different from tennis elbow in that it affects other areas of the arm, too. Also caused by overuse and repetitive motion, golfer’s elbow occurs in the tendons near the elbow, causing pain inside the elbow and down the inside of the forearm.
Pitcher’s elbow, sometimes also referred to as “Little League elbow,” is often the result of overuse and repetitive throwing motion. Symptoms include pain, swelling and restricted motion in the elbow.
Cubital tunnel, sometimes referred to as ulnar neuropathy, occurs when the ulnar nerve, which runs through the center groove of the elbow, becomes compressed or irritated. Pain, numbness and muscle weakness are common symptoms.
Wrist & hand pain & injury
The hand consists of a number of small bones called the phalanges, metacarpals and carpals. The wrist is where the two lower arm bones, the radius and ulna, meet.
Tendons, cartilage and ligaments connect the bones and help the hand and forearm to make rotational movements. The very nature and use of our hands and wrists makes them susceptible to injury. Here are the most common hand and wrist afflictions.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel is the result of a pinched nerve within the wrist that causes inflammation resulting in pain, weakness or numbness in the palm side of the hand (called the carpal tunnel), wrist and fingers.
Ganglion cysts are thick, fluid-filled sacs that develop under the skin outside of a joint or tendon. They are essentially benign tumors and are most common on the wrists and fingers.
Trigger finger refers to when a tendon in the forefinger or thumb becomes inflamed, stiff or tender. It is possible for the finger to become stuck in a bent position. Pain and a popping sensation in the affected finger are common.
Skier’s thumb is an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) or the soft tissue that connects the bones of the thumb together. UCL injuries account for 32 percent of ski injuries, hence the name skier’s thumb. Often times this is the result of an outstretched hand falling on a ski pole, stretching or tearing the ligament.
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a type of tendonitis that occurs when the tendons of the thumb or thumb side of the wrist become inflamed. Symptoms of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis include pain, swelling and tight sensation within the thumb.
Hip pain & injury
The hip is a ball and socket joint that allows for a wide range of leg motion. The hip is largely responsible for our ability to walk and run, and is therefore subject to a considerable amount of stress and wear over time.
Knee & leg pain & injury
Of our major joints, the knee is most prone to damage due to its location and function. The knee is where the two major leg bones, the femur (thighbone) and tibia (lower leg bone) meet. The patella, a small, flat and triangular bone, protects the knee joint.
None of these bones connect directly to the other, but they are connected via a complex network of soft tissue including ligaments, muscles, cartilage and a capsule, which holds and secretes fluid to nourish the knee joint. Knee and leg pain are extremely common and can be the result of many disorders, including the following.
Torn meniscus and meniscus injury
Torn meniscus refers to when this c-shaped disc of cartilage between the bones in the knee joint tears, which can happen with a sudden twist of the knee. The symptoms include pain, swelling and trouble bending or straightening the leg.
Baker’s cyst occurs when the capsule within the knee produces too much fluid, resulting in a bulge and tightness within the knee joint. This can be the result of other musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis or torn cartilage.
Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome
Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome is often the result of overuse of the connective tissues located on the outer thigh and knee. The IT band runs up the outside of the thigh from the hip to the lower leg, and is a major stabilizing structure within the leg.
Runner’s knee is the result of overuse of the knee joint. Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, runner’s knee is marked by pain and swelling around the kneecap or the feeling of grinding within the knee.
Jumper’s knee is the result of overuse of the patellar tendon, which is responsible for strengthening the knee as well as helping the knee bend. This condition is marked by pain and swelling below the kneecap.
Shin splints, called medial tibial stress syndrome, often afflict runners who do not slowly build up to longer distances, or who alter their routines too quickly. Shin splits are easily recognized by a generalized pain in the shin or in the front inside area of the lower leg.
Foot & ankle pain & injury
The foot and ankle have a complex mechanical structure, which consists of 26 small bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. The ankle joint is very similar to a hinge, which makes movement between the foot and leg possible. Together, the ankle and foot are largely responsible for support, balance and movement. Here are some of the foot and ankle disorders we treat.
Plantar fasciitis refers to irritation or inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia connects the heel bone to the toes, creating the arch of the foot. The most common symptom is pain at the bottom of the heel, which worsens after long periods of rest, such as sitting for a long period of time or sleeping.
Achilles heel refers to a condition in which the Achilles tendon, the tough fiber that links the calf muscle with the heel bone, becomes overstretched, torn or ruptured. Symptoms of a tendon injury include inflammation, tenderness and pain in the heel that worsens with use.
Flat feet (fallen arches)
Flat feet (fallen arches) is a condition where the arch of the foot collapses. This causes the entire sole of the foot to make contact with the ground. Flat feet can be the result of improper arch development during childhood, injury or aging. Some people never experience symptoms, while others may experience pain in the heels, arches, legs or back.
Metatarsalgia is a condition in which the ball of the foot, which is the area just behind the toes, becomes inflamed, often due to overuse. Metatarsalgia often presents as a sharp, burning or aching pain that gets worse with activity. In some cases, the pain is so sharp that it may feel as if there is a rock in one’s shoe. It may be a symptom of another underlying issue.
Back & neck pain & injury
The back and neck are largely composed of the spine, a column of 33 bones called vertebrae. The spine runs down the center of the back from the skull to the pelvis. The back and neck are part of an intricate structure of bone, muscle and connective tissue that is capable of great flexibility, strength and shock absorption. Below are the musculoskeletal disorders we treat that cause back and neck problems.
Whiplash is a relatively common injury that occurs quite frequently in car accidents. Whiplash is the result of the rapid forward and backward motion of the head and neck. Symptoms include neck pain and stiffness, headache, shoulder pain and stiffness, fatigue, and back pain.
Sciatica, a type of neuritis, is marked by pain, tingling or numbness in the back, buttock, leg or foot due to pressure, pinching or compression of the nerves that feed into the sciatic nerve. This can often be the result of a herniated disc.
Herniated disc is a problem with one of the discs that provide cushioning between the vertebrae in the spine. Also called a slipped or ruptured disc, a herniated disc occurs when some of the soft tissue inside the disc pushes outside. It is a very common condition that can cause severe pain in the back, buttocks, legs, neck, upper arms, and/or shoulders, depending on the location of the herniated disc.
Treatment for acute & chronic musculoskeletal issues
Our goal at HealthFit is to not only diagnose the acute or chronic condition but also to understand what may have caused it. We can then create plans for recovery and for preventing further injury.
Our approach utilizes nonsurgical treatments, rehabilitation, functional bracing and minimally invasive procedures. When the injury or pain requires it, such as a diagnosis of a tear or complicated fracture, we refer patients to the appropriate, trusted specialists.
Treatments we provide depend on the type of disorder, its severity, the symptoms that accompany it, and the patient’s condition and desires.
We offer the following treatments at HealthFit for musculoskeletal disorders:
- Medications such as over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, and prescription meds as needed to treat and restore the injury.
- Referrals to physical therapy in partnership with our kinesiology team, specialists in body movement.
- Injections, such as steroid and platelet-rich plasma, and ultrasound-guided procedures such as calcific tendinopathy barbotage.
- Injury rehabilitation.
- Sports medicine rehab with physical therapy.
- Concussion management & impact testing.
- Return-to-play decision-making.
- Functional bracing.
- Osteopathic manipulation therapy (OMT).
Take the next steps at HealthFit
From examination through recovery, HealthFit offers a unique hands-on approach to treating musculoskeletal injuries, chronic pain and disorders that can affect many parts of the body. We work with our patients to develop effective, alternative treatments to surgery in order to get them back to what they love, while preventing further injury.
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