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Keep your aches and pains in check, Rose City

What are your bones, joints and muscles trying to tell you?

Those recurring pains, sore knees and lower back tenderness are all shared ailments affecting residents of the Rose City. What do these aches have in common? They all come from your musculoskeletal system — the framework of your body, encompassing thousands of tendons, more than 900 ligaments, 600-plus muscles and 206 bones. Working together, the musculoskeletal system supports your posture and makes you capable of movement. However, like any well-oiled machine, one or two misfiring parts can “gum up” the works and slow you down with limited mobility or chronic pain.

Musculoskeletal injuries, disorders and diseases are the leading causes of disability in the United States, and may affect, in various degrees, more than one out of every two Portland adults, according to The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States. For Portlanders 65 years and older, three out of four may feel the pain and/or discomfort associated with bone and joint conditions.

What is a musculoskeletal system injury?
The musculoskeletal system is quite complex and injuries are very common. As you age, your risk of developing one of the many ailments listed below increases. Severity of a musculoskeletal injury varies from a small pain or minor discomfort, to surgery-requiring breaks or tears. Causes of related injuries can be attributed to many daily rituals, including occupation, activity level, lifestyle and family history.

A small sample of disorders that affect your bones, joints or tendons include:

  • Tendinitis — Inflammation of any number of tendons. Common in the knee, shoulder and elbow.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome — A compressed nerve in the wrist, resulting in numbness, tingling and pain.
  • Arthritis — An all-encompassing term for joint pain or joint disease, conditions resulting in swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion.
  • Osteoarthritis — A degenerative joint disease, where a patient’s cartilage breaks down and causes swelling, stiffness or pain.
  • Bone fractures — Whether a hairline or compound fracture, the breaking of a bone must be healed properly for fully restored movement.

Preventing injury

Many musculoskeletal injuries plaguing patients are due to common occurrences. The best way to prevent an injury is to identify, avoid or reapproach any hazards or potential issues that may cause injury. When it comes to workplace injury prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set standards for workplace ergonomics. Your place of work should provide proper training and management support, identify any problems and encourage you to report any potential risks.

Physical activity is also a strong contributor to musculoskeletal disorders. Whether you’re a professional athlete or working on a couch-to-5K program, injuries may stem from a variety of issues, including overuse or improper form. If you have any concern about hurting yourself while trying to stay active and fit, speaking with a physical therapist or personal trainer is an important step in developing a practical and safe fitness program.

Seeking treatment

Working in tandem with your musculoskeletal system, orthopedic doctors and surgeons specialize in treating and preventing injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. There are a wide range of specialties within the orthopedic concentration, including foot and ankle, shoulder, spine, hip and knee. Additionally, each specialty can be divided into focuses, including pediatrics, trauma/injury or sports medicine.

No matter what the cause, The Portland Clinic Orthopedic & Sports Medicine department is available to help. It is vital to seek treatment from a specialist who concentrates on your exact injury, and our team of providers includes orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physician assistants, certified athletic trainers, physical therapists and nutritionists who specialize in injury treatment and recovery.

There are multiple procedures and services available to help alleviate pain and help repair any damage, including:

  • Arthroscopic surgery
    • Knee and ankle
    • Shoulder, elbow and wrist
  • ACL reconstruction and meniscal tears
  • Ankle fractures and ligament repairs
  • Achilles tendon repairs
  • Rotator cuff surgery and repair
  • Shoulder/elbow instability and repair
  • Wrist/hand injuries and fractures
    • Carpal tunnel and trigger finger
    • Complex hand surgery
    • XIAFLEX for Dupuytren’s disease
  • Fracture treatment and repairs
  • Casting and splinting
  • Joint injections
  • Sports medicine

When you see your orthopedic specialist, be prepared. Try to identify, to the best of your ability, how and when you developed your injury — write down everything you can if necessary. During your visit, provide all medical treatment for the injury, including medical records, referrals and X-rays. The more your physician knows, the more accurate and precise your treatment will become.

Please ask as many questions as possible when receiving treatment. Understanding how long you have to recover, what activities are discouraged or encouraged and overall knowledge of future preventive measures will help streamline recovery and could help prevent future injury.

If you are concerned for the health of your muscles, bones or joints, don’t hesitate to contact doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic for an appointment by calling 503-223-3113. For more insight on dealing with foot or ankle health, watch the recent #AskPortlandClinic chat with Dr. Janson Holm, foot and ankle specialist at The Portland Clinic.