Musculoskeletal disorders are conditions which affect the muscles, joints and skeleton. There are over 200 different disorders, and the affected areas include the neck, back, hips, legs, knees, feet, shoulders and wrists. Over 10 million adults and 12,000 children in England suffer from a musculoskeletal disorder. The severity of the illness can vary widely, and often the pain and discomfort interferes with everyday activities. There are other conditions which exhibit musculoskeletal symptoms- such as osteoarthritis, gout and fibromyalgia. As we age, we are more likely to suffer from one of these conditions as our bones, joints and muscles can show signs of wear and tear, and start to wear out. Some activities can predispose us, such as poor posture when sitting at a desk for long periods. Symptoms generally take the form of pain, aches, stiffness and painful joints. Often treatment consists of NAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or topical analgesics.
Person obv suffering joint pain
There are other therapies which can help with the symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders, and in a lot of cases deal with the root cause to prevent reoccurrence. A chiropractor specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the musculo-skeletal system. They treat mainly through the manual adjustment and manipulation of the spine. They use their hands to apply force to the supporting structures of the spine, as well as using a wealth of techniques designed to restore structural alignment to the spine. A chiropractor will treat “subluxation”, when the vertebrae are out of line, often resulting in functional loss. High velocity, short lever arm thrusts are applied to the vertebrae to reduce the pressure on joints and as a consequence provide pain relief. It has been shown that a chiropractic treatment can enhance the long term outcome for low back pain sufferers.1 They will advise you about your lifestyle, and may recommend an exercise regime. They can use tools such as back support belts, pillows and elastic bands as part of the treatment.
Chiro treating a patient
An osteopath treats disorders by manipulating and massaging the skeleton and soft tissues. A treatment is designed to help the body to heal, relax the muscles, increase joint mobility and encourage the blood supply to the tissues. The aim is to get the bones, muscles ligaments and connective tissue functioning well together. They use their hands to massage and stretch stiff joints to encourage joints to move in the way they should. ‘Thrusts’ may be applied to the spine and exercises given to do at home. A treatment has been shown to lower back pain more than a placebo which persists for more than 3 months.2 Both osteopathic and chiropractic treatments involve you undressing in order for the spine and joints to be accessed. A gown will be provided when necessary.
Osteo treating a patient
Podiatry is concerned with the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of abnormal conditions of the feet and lower limbs. As part of your initial consultation, a gait and posture assessment will establish whether your patterns of standing and moving are causing or aggravating your condition. A podiatrist may use stretching and strengthening exercises, mobilisation and manipulation of the joints and soft tissues and massage. They are able to prescribe insoles and orthotics which work to help reduce tissue stress which causes pain, improve posture and correct gait abnormalities.
Podiatrist examining posture of a patient
A physiotherapist treats a wide range of conditions, including injuries and ailments affecting bones, joints and soft tissues. They would assess your issue and devise a treatment plan. Manual therapy, involving manipulation, massage and mobilisation would be used to help with pain, stiffness, to encourage blood and lymph to the area and to help improve mobility. They are able to use many different techniques, as well as give advice about exercise, diet and wellbeing. Mobility aids such as crutches and walking sticks are available from physiotherapists.
Physio treating a patient
Acupuncture is used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including musculo-skeletal disorders. NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has recommended acupuncture as a treatment for back pain on the NHS. It is an effective treatment for chronic pain.3 It involves fine, flexible needles being inserted at specific points of the body. The Chinese believe that pain and illness are signs that the body is out of balance. Harmony needs to be restored to be healthy. There are channels which run around our body within which flows our life force, or ‘qi’. A condition or ailment is a sign that the flow has been blocked at some point. A thorough assessment is taken by the practitioner who is trained to diagnose where the blockage is in the body. The needles are placed at specific points to relieve the blockage. The needles are left in place for approximately 20 minutes whilst you relax. Often Chinese herbs are prescribed in conjunction with acupuncture treatments.
Patients back with needles in place
Massage therapy is used as preventative treatment to encourage muscle tone, balance and posture. It also helps to maintain healthy connective tissue. It is an effective treatment for injury, chronic pain, posture problems and restricted range of movement. Massage involves using different techniques, with the aim being to encourage muscles to stretch, allowing the circulation of blood and lymph, to relax muscles and to increase flexibility. The techniques involve smooth stroking movements, kneading of the skin and muscles, squeezing, shaking, wringing and rolling. It can aid sleep and relaxation and ease pain, and reduce stress.
Person having a massage
The Holistic Health Care Clinic is able to provide different therapies with which to approach any musculoskeletal disorder. By examining you holistically, the correct balance of treatments may be determined. You are an individual and a tailored treatment plan using the therapies on offer will maximize your chances of an effective recovery.
Smiling, happy, healthy person
- 1. Senna, MK et al ‘Des Maintained Spinal Manipulation Therapy for Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain Result in Better Long- term Outcome?’ Spine 36 2011 (180 1427-1437.
- 2. Licciardone, J et al ‘Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment for Lower Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta- Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.’ BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2005 6:43.
- 3. Vickers, AJ et al ‘Acupuncture for Chronic Pain. Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis.’ Arch Intern Med 2012 172 (19) 1444-1453.