Chronic or Acute Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain–pain that affects the bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons–can be either acute (severe with rapid onset) or chronic (enduring). The most common form of musculoskeletal pain in low back pain, but it can occur in any part of the body, localized or widespread. Car accidents, falls, sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations, direct blows, prolonged inactivity, poor posture, and overuse all can contribute to musculoskeletal pain. Musculoskeletal pain can include pain that worsens with movement, aching or stiffness, the feeling of a pulled or overworked muscle, fatigue, trouble sleeping, muscle twitching, or a sensation of burning. Physical therapy can be effective in treating many types of musculoskeletal pain. Physical therapy may include custom splinting to protect the injured joint or muscle; hot or cold therapy to reduce inflammation and pain; relaxation and biofeedback techniques to decrease stress and promote healing; pain management techniques; manual therapy (joint mobilization and massage); trigger point therapy or dry needling; and specific exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles. A physical therapist also will provide education on injury prevention, proper posture and spine alignment, and exercises to complete at home to further in-clinic progress. For patients with musculoskeletal disorders such as fibromyalgia, medication may be necessary to boost serotonin and norepinephrine levels.