What is Musculoskeletal Pain?

Musculoskeletal (MSK) pain is pain that affects muscles, tendons, ligaments, retinaculum, facia, bones, cartilage and meniscus. Pain related to MSK disorders is an extremely common medical and socioeconomic problem in Australia, with 1 in 3 people experiencing back pain or problems at least once during their life. MSK disorders can be acute (short lasting), chronic (lasting greater than 3 months) and transient in nature (constantly changing).

MSK pain examples include:

  • Tendinopathy/Tendinitis
  • Muscle tear
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Tendon tear/avulsion
  • Ligament rupture (ACL, PCL, LCL etc.)
  • Shoulder rotator cuff tear
  • Meniscus tear
  • Bone Fracture
  • Cartilage Fissuring/Degeneration
  • De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
  • Sciatic pain
  • Chronic ankle instability
  • Non-specific Low back pain
  • Disc bulge
  • Cervical pain/headaches
  • Plantar fasciitis


How is it Diagnosed?

MSK pain is diagnosed based on a subjective, and objective assessment. First, your allied health provider will question on reported occurrence of injury, aggravating and alleviating actions, as well as possession of symptoms. This will include the region of pain, what the pain feels like, pain intensity, and any actions which aggravate or alleviate the pain.

Next, your allied health provided will perform a series of physical assessments, such muscular activation, strength, tension, and reflexes, as well as active and passive joint range of motion.

If required, your health provider will send you for additional out of practice testing such as an X-ray, CT scan, MRI scan, Dexa scan, Ultrasound, joint fluid testing, or blood tests.


How can Activate Health help you?

Here at Activate Health we are passionate about providing high quality Exercise Physiology services to ensure all our clients receive the best care possible and assist them in the best possible way to achieve their outcomes. Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEPs) are Allied Health professionals who have attended at least 4 years of theoretical and practical study, with over 500 hours of placement experience before graduating. AEP’s are trained to provide high quality up to date evidence based treatments for a range of conditions, including MSK pain.

Research has shown that exercise and movement interventions are highly effective at treating the majority of MSK pain symptoms. While passive therapies such as such as manipulations, manual therapy (massage), dry needling ect., have long thought to be the primary method of treatment for MSK pain, exercise is rapidly being regarded as the new primary treatment method for a large majority of the possible MSK conditions. with leading physios in Australia and around the Globe moving many of their treatments to Exercise & Movement therapies, and away from passive manual therapies. Exercise is now recognized as equally as beneficial for some types MSK pathologies as pain medication, anti-inflammatories, and traditional manual therapies. Given the extremely vast variety of possible MSK pains, the effectiveness of possible therapies will vary depending on the type of MSK pain and presentation; It is important to contact your Allied Health provider to find out which type of therapy is most suited for you.

Benefits of Exercise and Movement therapies include:

  1. Long term – Exercise and Movement therapies have been shown to have longer lasting effects than passive therapies listed above.
  2. Cost effective – Exercise and Movement interventions have been shown to be a cost-effective therapy. While seeing any allied health professional carries its own expenses per appointment, exercise and movement is shown to be a cheap, easily accessible, and independent therapy people can access outside of their in-clinic AEP session.
  3. Empowering the client – AEP lead Exercise and Movement interventions can provide an empowering feeling to the client, through AEP provided education, via providing some autonomy in one’s care, and well as a sense of achievement as attainment of goals is largely up to you doing the exercise and/or movement.


Using Exercise and Movement as a treatment for MSK pain has been shown too:

  • Decrease pain.
  • Decrease duration of injury
  • Decrease risk of re-injury
  • Improve Quality of Life
  • Improve sleep quality.
  • Improve range of movement and strength

Research has shown there are some risk factors associated with a higher risk of injury.

  • Stress / Psychological factors
  • Lack of sleep/recovery
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Inadequate training/preparation – poor strength, neuromuscular control, and range of motion
  • Sudden increases in exercise/activity volume or intensity
  • Muscle imbalances
  • Body composition
  • Genetic / Physiological abnormalities
  • Contact sports
  • Extreme sports
  • Overtraining
  • Work – lifting bulky/heavy items, prolonged awkward postures, repetitive actions, overhead work, twisting and carrying loads, hand/arm vibration, whole body vibration, wrist deviations, poor shoulder/wrist posture, contract stress.
  • Smoking
  • Older age
  • Previous injury

MSK injuries can occur at any age and time, including work, sport, training, during activities such as gardening, playing with kids/grandkids, social events, and even with an insidious onset (no clear injury point). MSK injuries can be debilitating and difficult to deal with, research has shown the best way to reduce the risk of injury is living an active lifestyle, striving for the Australian Activity Guidelines. After this, addressing the risk factors above will play a significant role in injury risk reduction.

There are no blanket guidelines for all MSK pain, recommendations for treatment are dependent on the pathology/injury present, the rest of the body’s presentation/capacity and other diagnostic factors. Your AEP may provide an intervention for you to do in our clinic gym, in the community gym you attend, at home, or in one of our hydrotherapy locations. To ensure safety and proper management it is highly recommended to receive a comprehensive health screening and assessment before starting exercise if you are living with MSK pain.

Talk to you Doctor today to request a Chronic Care Plan referral for bulk billed consultations here at Activate Health. We also take private bookings which can be partially covered by your private health fund. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any enquires on 07 4939 5696.