Musculoskeletal pain

If musculoskeletal pain is present, physical examination (site of tenderness, limitation of movement, muscle tone) will help to determine the structures that may be affected and the presence of inflammation or muscle spasm. There is often a relationship with activity or position. Particularly in the acute phase, if skeletal damage is suspected, investigations such as x-rays, computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may help to identify pathology, such as a fracture, dislocation, spinal misalignment, or instability. In the chronic phase, restriction in range of movement of the upper limb may suggest an overuse syndrome. The pain is described as aching in the area of pressure or overuse and is worse with use of involved joints or pressure on the part. For a full discussion of musculoskeletal pain, see Chapter 2, Applied physiology: persistent musculoskeletal pain.

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