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Pain that affects the bones, ligaments and tendons and bones is termed as musculoskeletal pain.  It can be acute or sudden or it can be chronic or long lasting. Musculoskeletal pain can be localized in one area, or widespread.

Common types

Musculoskeletal pain can be of various types.

Bone pain is usually deep, penetrating, or dull and most commonly results from injury.

Muscle pain is often less intense than bone pain but it can still be debilitating. Muscle pain can also cause by an injury. An autoimmune reaction, loss of blood flow to the muscle, infection, or a tumor may also be the reason of muscle pain.

Pains in the tendons or ligaments are often caused by injuries, including sprains. This type of musculoskeletal pain often becomes worse when the affected area is stretched or moved.

Fibromyalgia is a condition that may cause pain in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments. The pain is usually in multiple locations and patient can’t be able to tell the exact location of pain.

Joint pain may range from mild to severe and worsens when moving the joint. The joints may also swell. Joint inflammation is a common cause of pain.

Tunnel syndromes refer to musculoskeletal disorders that cause pain due to nerve compression.

Chronic musculoskeletal pain

Chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions are multifaceted. Chronic pain is influenced by and interacts with physical, emotional, psychological and social factors. Chronic pain conditions are mainly driven by alterations in the central nervous system with little or no peripheral stimuli.


The causes of musculoskeletal pain are varied. Muscle tissue can be damaged with the wear and tear of daily activities. Jerking movements, auto accidents, falls, fractures, dislocations can also cause musculoskeletal pain. Repetitive movement, overuse, and prolonged immobilization can also be the reason of pain.


Effective management is markedly different from that of acute musculoskeletal pain. Psychotherapy and biofeedback exercises can be used to manage chronic pain. Injections with anesthetic or anti-inflammatory medications in or around the painful sites are also useful. Exercise that includes muscle strengthening and stretching can also work. NSAIDs are a diverse group of compounds and medications with analgesic, antipyretic, and anti-inflammatory activity. NSAIDs are among the most widely prescribed types of medication in musculoskeletal pain. However NSAIDs must be used with severe caution in older individuals due to the high risk of potentially serious and life-threatening side effects including gastrointestinal bleeding, stroke, renal failure, and ischemic heart disease.

The best form of treatment is to combine a safe pharmacological program with nonpharmacological medications for patients for maximum relieve of pain. Nonpharmacological treatment programs are aimed at targeting the site and source of pain conditions. They involve exercise programs, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) application, heat/ice therapy and psychological methods.