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Musculoskeletal (MSK) Pain: Common Causes and How to Address It

Girl running outside is holding her foot in pain

People of all age groups can experience musculoskeletal pain. Whether you’re an athlete rehabbing an injury, a gym rat, or someone recovering from surgery, MSK pain does not discriminate.

In order to successfully treat MSK pain, either the person affected or the physician or physical therapist treating them will want to pinpoint the cause of the problem. This is sometimes more difficult than it seems, frequently the injury or disfunction may be above or below the area where you are feeling the pain. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of MSK pain and how to address it.


Common Causes of Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain is typically caused by disorders of bones, joints, muscles, tendons, or ligaments, or a combination. Injuries to the body are the most common cause of pain. There are 3 main types of injuries that we see; acute, chronic, and overuse. An acute injury is one that is severe and of sudden onset such as an ankle sprain or an injury from a fall. A chronic injury is one that may or may not have an exact onset but has progressed over time, low back pain frequently falls into this category. Lastly, overuse injuries are those caused by repetitive motion without enough rest or variety; some examples are shin splints, IT band syndrome, and various types of tendonitis.

Bone Pain: Bone pain commonly occurs from an injury but can also be caused be repetitive movements or overuse. It’s usually described as being dull, penetrating, and felt deep within the body.

Muscle pain: Muscle pain can be caused from an injury such as a blow, strain or tear, loss of blood flow to the muscle, a tumor, or an infection. Described as less intense than bone pain, muscle pain can still be very painful and uncomfortable. If you’ve ever experienced a “Charley Horse,” you know how unpleasant a muscle cramp can be.

Tendon Pain: Tendon pain iscommonly caused by an injury, repetitive motion, or malalignment.  Patients tend to describe it as sharp or pinching pain, popping and clicking are often present.

Ligament Pain: Ligament pain is most commonly caused by an acute injury which may include an audible pop or a popping sensation. Patients tend to describe ligament pain as “sharp.”

Joint Pain: Joint pain is speculated to be caused from joint inflammation, or more commonly referred to as arthritis. Joint pain can be caused by injuries or infections and may be new to an individual, or it may be a chronic condition. It is often described as feeling achy, stiff, or swollen.

Injuries resulting from jerking movements, falls, car accidents, or other direct blows to the body can all cause MSK pain. Regardless of the cause of your MSK pain, there are solutions to increase your quality of life.


How to Address MSK Pain

If you think you’re experiencing MSK pain, it’s crucial to address it to fully regain your health. No one should be shouldered with reoccurring pain that prevents them from living the life they want. If you’re experiencing twitching muscles, achiness or stiffness, reoccurring pain to areas like your knee, back, or neck, it’s time to address the cause of the problem.

A great way to get to the root of your MSK pain is by seeing a physical therapist. Physical therapy will treat the cause instead of the symptom; while prescription painkillers or over the counter pain relievers might help mask pain for a short while, they won’t fix what’s wrong.

Agile Virtual PT can schedule you with a licensed physical therapist directly from the comfort of your own home. You’ll see the same physical therapist for every call and they will develop a plan specific to you. Schedule an appointment today to relieve your MSK pain.