Musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries refer to any injury of the bones, muscles, tendons (connect muscle to bone) and ligaments (connect bone to bone). There are four basic types of musculoskeletal injuries, these are:
- Fractures – a break or disruption in bone
- Dislocation – displacement or separation of a bone from its normal position at the joint.
- Sprain – partial or complete tearing of ligaments and tissues at the joint.
- Strain – An extreme stretching or tearing of muscle and/or tendon.
MSK first aid
If you have had a Sprain or Strain injury you should immediately:
- Rest is very important for soft tissue injuries, both in the short term and for longer term care.
- Ice should be applied periodically, for around 10-20 minutes at a time. After the 10-20 minutes, you need at least a 20 minute off period before you ice again
- Elastic bandages can help prevent or reduce excessive swelling. The elastic bandage should always reach from the largest muscle area below the injury, to the largest muscle group above the injury.
- Where appropriate, the injury should be elevated above the heart, as this will help reduce the localized swelling which occurs.
In addition early pain relief with anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen will help reduce the inflammation, pain and promote healing.
Soft tissue injury reaction
When tissue is injured or damaged, the body immediately begins the repair process. This creates inflammation, which acts as a protective, as well as healing mechanism. The healing process causes the symptoms which you experience when you have a MSK injury:
- Is the result of an increase in blood flow to the injured area due to damaged blood vessels and the need to supply the area with an increased number of white blood cells to heal the injury. This causes local heat which is why the use of Ice helps.
- Is due to the increase in blood flow to the area
- Also is due to the increase in blood flow to the area. Additionally, damage to the cells, small capillaries and lymphatic vessels in the area may allow the leaking of some fluid.
- Is often due to pressure on nerve endings from increased swelling.
Loss of function
- Is caused by swelling in the area and “guarding” of the muscles surrounding the injury. This also produces an increase in pain.
The list of MSK problems we are prone to is very long! One of the most common is back pain. It has been found that over 80% of people will suffer problems with back pain in their life. Also at any given time up to 20% of people are experiencing some back pain. This is the consequence of walking on two legs. Most episodes settle within a few weeks & are helped by keeping active & getting back to normal activities (including work) as soon as possible.
For more information and advice on back pain see these websites:
Whiplash (neck pain)
You can get a whiplash injury in a relatively minor rear-end shunt, particularly if the head restraint on your seat isn’t adjusted properly. You might feel anything from mild stiffness with headaches and dizziness to more serious and long-term impairment.
For more information and advice on whiplash injury see NHS.
Ankle sprain occur usually through excessive stress on the ligaments of the ankle. The risk of a sprain is greatest during activities that involve explosive side-to-side motion, such as badminton, tennis or basketball. Sprained ankles can also occur during normal daily activities such as stepping off a curb or slipping on ice. Returning to activity before the ligaments have fully healed may cause them to heal in a stretched position, resulting in less stability at the ankle joint. This can lead to a condition known as Chronic Ankle Instability (CAI), and an increased risk of ankle sprains.
For more information and advice on ankle sprains see these websites:
Carpel tunnel syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition in which a nerve in your wrist comes under pressure. This causes pain, tingling or weakness, mainly in your forearm and hand. Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome helps to relieve your symptoms by reducing the pressure on your median nerve. It may also stop your condition from getting any worse. If you only have mild symptoms, they may improve without any treatment after about six months, especially if you’re pregnant or under 30.
Resting your hands and wrists regularly may relieve mild symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. When your symptoms flare up, try applying a cold compress, such as an ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel. Don’t apply ice directly to your skin as it can damage your skin.
If repetitive hand movements are causing your condition, it’s important to try to limit any activities that make your symptoms worse. It may help if you change the way you carry out these actions, reduce how often you do them and increase the amount of rest you take between periods of activity. Some people find that changing their mouse or keyboard shape can help.
Other treatments include pain medication, physiotherapy, steroid injection or surgery.