Musculoskeletal injuries can be caused by everyday activities that put excessive strain on our bodies.1,2

MUSCULOSKELETAL INJURIES

The musculoskeletal system is made up of bones, muscles, and the tissues that connect them (ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissue, which are called soft tissues). These structures give the body its form, make it stable, and enable it to move.1 Trauma is the most common cause of injury to the musculoskeletal system, and include a direct force, such as a fall or car accident. Other causes of injuries to the musculoskeletal system include repeated wear and tear from daily activities, jerky movements, or sporting activities.1 Musculoskeletal injuries usually go hand-in-hand with symptoms of pain, swelling, bruising and inflammation.1,2

Musculoskeletal injuries include:

  • Ligaments can be torn (sprains)1
  • Muscles can be torn (strains)1
  • Inflammation of a tendon (tendonitis)9
  • Inflammation of the fluid-filled sack around the joint (bursitis)9
  • Muscle pain caused by an injury or infection (myalgia)9
  • Joint pain and inflammation (e.g. arthritis)9
  • A broken bone (fracture)1

Almost everyone has sore, aching muscles now and then. Muscle pain can involve a small area or your whole body, ranging from mild to excruciating. Although most muscle aches and pains go away on their own within a short time, sometimes muscle pain can linger for months. Muscle pain can develop almost anywhere in your body, including your neck, back, legs and even your hands.15 Pulling or straining a muscle can occur with an injury (e.g. falling or during sport) and results in damage to the muscle or its tendon, causing pain. Sometimes overuse, or sudden movements during normal daily activities, can also injure the muscle. In addition to muscle pain at rest, or when the muscle or joint is used, some other symptoms that might occur include:16

Swelling, bruising or redness
Weakness of the muscle

Pain and muscle spasm can create a vicious cycle where pain causes a muscle to contract. The muscle contraction or spasm limits the blood flow to the muscle, which in turn can cause pain again, which keeps the muscle contracted. The limited blood flow to the muscle can also cause waste products to build up in the muscle tissue.17 It is important to break the muscle spasm and to alleviate the pain to restore the muscle’s normal function.17,18

Although sprains and strains are most commonly caused by sports injuries, they can just as easily occur during everyday activities such as walking, gardening, cleaning the house or even at work, especially of you do a lot of heavy lifting.1,2 Anyone can get a sprain or strain. Sprains and strains may have similar symptoms; however, they involve different parts of your body.2

What is a sprain?

A sprain is the stretching or tearing of ligaments. Ligaments are the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones together to form your joints.2 A sprain can occur when you walk or exercise on an uneven surface, when you put a lot of pressure on a joint by stretching and overextending a limb, or when you suddenly change direction and twist your knee. A sprain may also occur when you try to break a fall with an outstretched hand.2

What is a strain?

A strain is the stretching or tearing of a muscle or a tendon. Tendons are fibrous cords of tissue that connect your muscles to your bones.2 A strain can occur when a muscle becomes strained or is pulled, such as when you lift a heavy object or lift an object in an awkward position. A muscle may also be strained when you run, jump or throw a ball, or when you slip on a slippery surface, which causes the muscle to be pulled unusually far or abruptly.2

Joint pain can be discomfort, pain or inflammation arising from any part of a joint, including cartilage, bone, ligaments, tendons or muscles. Joint pain can be mild, causing soreness only after certain activities, or it can be severe, making even limited movement, particularly bearing weight, extremely painful. Arthritis may cause swelling and pain over the affected joint.9,19

Bursitis:

Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa, which is the small, fluid-filled sac that cushion the bones, tendons and muscles near your joints. Bursitis often occurs near joints that perform frequent repetitive motion. The most common locations for bursitis are in the shoulder, elbow and hip.

If you have bursitis, the affected joint might:20

  • Feel achy or stiff
  • Hurt more when you move it or press on it
  • Look swollen and red

Tendonitis:

Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon which attaches the muscle to the bone. The pain is described as sharp is generally worse when the tendon is stretched or moved.9

Neck pain is a common problem, affecting many adults at some time in their lives.10 Neck pain may affect the neck and shoulders, and it may radiate down an arm.10 Muscle tension commonly causes pain in the neck, upper back and shoulders. Sometimes, by keeping the muscles in a semi-contracted state for a long time, posture may be responsible for the tension; for example, sitting at a desk, working over books, or at a computer. Stress may also contribute to muscle tension, spasm and pain.11,12 Carrying a heavy backpack or purse on one shoulder or cradling your phone between your shoulder and your neck may also cause neck pain.10

Almost everybody has experienced or will experience back pain at some point in time. Sometimes the pain may have a specific cause that can be diagnosed and treated by your doctor. Back pain can come on suddenly and last less than six weeks (acute), which may be caused by a fall or heavy lifting. Back pain that lasts more than three months (chronic) is less common.13 Conditions commonly linked to back pain include a muscle or ligament strain, bulging or ruptured disks, arthritis or skeletal abnormalities.13 However, in up to 85 % of people with lower back pain, no specific cause can be identified.14

Tension headaches are very common and most people will have experienced one at some time or another. They are often caused by tiredness, tension and stress, but if you get them frequently, it may be more difficult to identify factors that cause this type of headache.11

Common characteristics of a tension headache are:11

  • Dull, aching pain on both sides of the head
  • Feeling of tightness around the head
  • They may last from 30 minutes to days
  • They may be worse later in the day
  • If frequent, they may affect your job productivity and overall quality of life