Types of Musculoskeletal Pain

Types of Musculoskeletal Pain

Different types of musculoskeletal pain manifest in the nerves, joints, muscles, and bones. Read on to learn more about this type of pain.

Table of Contents

What Is Musculoskeletal Pain?

Musculoskeletal pain is a specific type of pain that affects muscles and joints. Musculoskeletal pain is most often felt in your: 1
  • Joints
  • Muscles
  • Bones 
  • Ligaments

Impact of Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain can be acute, meaning it occurs suddenly or without warning, or chronic, meaning it lasts for almost time with minimal or no relief. Musculoskeletal pain may occur in one area of your body, or it may affect the entire body. There are different musculoskeletal pain types, each affecting different areas of the body.

Medical conditions such as circulatory and respiratory problems are common across the nation, but the rate of musculoskeletal problems and disease far outpaces these conditions, which affect approximately one in three people.

What Causes Musculoskeletal Pain?

Musculoskeletal pain and diseases affect more than one out of every two Americans over the age of eighteen and almost 75% (nearly three out of four) people over the age of 65 in the United States. Trauma, back pain, and arthritis are the three most common types of musculoskeletal injuries, and low back pain is the most common musculoskeletal pain type. 3

Most Common Sources of Pain

There are several musculoskeletal pain causes. The most common sources of musculoskeletal injury and pain symptoms include:
  • Overuse injuries
  • Sprains
  • Bone fractures
  • Joint dislocation
  • Poor posture
  • Direct blows to bones, muscles, or joints
Other potential causes of musculoskeletal pain include repetitive movements, prolonged immobilization (which occurs when a bone or joint is in a cast), jerking movements, slips, and falls.

Types of Musculoskeletal Pain

Studies show more than one hundred and fifty different musculoskeletal disorders exist. As a result, many types of musculoskeletal pain and multiple potential causes of musculoskeletal issues exist. Some of the most common types will be detailed below.

Muscle Pain

Muscle pain or myalgia is pain and discomfort in the soft tissue. Soft tissue is responsible for connecting muscles, bones, and organs. Typical causes of muscle pain can include cramps, spasms, illness, tumors, and some medications.

Bone Pain

Trauma resulting from injury or fracture is a common cause of bone pain.

Tendon and Ligament Pain

Tendon and ligament pain often arise from strains and sprains. Ligament pain also occurs due to overuse or sudden movements that cause stretching or tearing.

Joint Pain

Joint pain can occur due to stiffness, reduced range of motion, and swelling.


Fibromyalgia is a type of musculoskeletal pain that causes pain in joints, muscles, and tendons throughout the entire body. In many cases, pain begins in a localized area before spreading.

Back Pain

Back pain can be a perplexing musculoskeletal pain type. Musculoskeletal pain symptoms in the back may have no apparent cause or may arise from injury or illness, including disc fractures, inflammation, and muscle strain

Chest Pain

Chest pain can be a scary musculoskeletal pain type. It can occur due to angina when your heart muscle does not get enough oxygen. It can also arise from digestive issues such as acid reflux. Inflammation, panic attacks, and blood clots in the lungs can also cause musculoskeletal pain.4

Nerve Compression Pain

Nerve compression pain is a type of musculoskeletal pain that can occur when an injury or illness puts pressure on the nerves.

What Does Musculoskeletal Pain Feel Like?

Everyone experiences pain differently. Therefore, it can be hard to know if your pain and discomfort are the results of a musculoskeletal disorder or another medical condition. The quality and severity of your pain will vary based on where the pain is located in your body and the type of musculoskeletal injury or disorder.
Muscle pain can be intense yet short-lived, depending on the cause of the pain. Your muscle may twitch or spasm, causing pain and discomfort. On the other hand, joint pain often feels like a dull and unpleasant ache. It may also be accompanied by swelling and stiffness.

Other Types of Musculoskeletal Pain

There are other ways this type of pain is felt as well. Bone pain can be sharp, stabbing, dull, or deep. Bone pain is often more uncomfortable and challenging to manage than tendon or muscle pain. Tendon and ligament pain often worsens when moving or stretching the affected area. With rest, you will notice pain improves. Tendon pain typically feels sharp and piercing, especially if it is the result of a musculoskeletal injury.
Fibromyalgia generally causes widespread tender spots throughout the body, and back or chest pain symptoms will vary depending on the cause and the severity of the musculoskeletal injury that caused the pain. Lastly, nerve compression pain symptoms vary from person to person. It may feel like pins and needles, burning, or tingling. Other symptoms depend on the root cause of the pain and can include soreness, swelling, difficulties moving, spasms, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.
Types of Musculoskeletal Pain

How Is Musculoskeletal Pain Treated?

Musculoskeletal disorders treatment depends on the type of pain and the root causes. When you work with a musculoskeletal doctor, they will provide various treatment options to help you manage your pain. Common treatments for musculoskeletal pain include medications and therapies.

Musculoskeletal Therapy

Options for musculoskeletal therapy include therapeutic massage, chiropractic care, and physical therapy.

Musculoskeletal Pain Medication

Depending on the pain type, medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and NSAIDs can help reduce the severity of pain. Another pain management option is corticosteroid injections.

Other Treatments

In addition to medications and therapy, your doctor may suggest alternative treatments such as relaxation techniques, acupuncture, supplements, taping, braces, and orthotics. At-home treatments, including hot and cold therapy, stretching exercises, and conditioning exercises, may also help.

Find Help For Musculoskeletal Pain at J. Flowers Health Institute

With proper treatment, musculoskeletal pain often improves. By treating the underlying condition causing your pain, you can experience pain reduction and symptom improvement. If your pain interferes with your ability to perform day-to-day tasks, it is crucial to speak to a provider to learn about pain relief and management options.

It is also essential to understand if the cause of your musculoskeletal pain is an underlying medical condition that requires treatment before you can start your recovery. Let us help. Contact us today to learn how to find help for musculoskeletal pain at J. Flowers Health Institute.