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Maintaining good musculoskeletal health is essential for living a life free of pain and discomfort. The musculoskeletal system is made up of tissue, bones, muscle, ligaments, and tendons that all work together to achieve certain bodily functions and movement. Musculoskeletal health is essential to overall health and good musculoskeletal health is what makes moving, playing sports, and living your daily life free of pain and injury.

Why Maintaining Musculoskeletal Health is Important

Musculoskeletal health affects the whole body, providing the foundation for structure and the means for movement. Your skeleton, muscles, and other soft tissues support your body and help you move. Therefore, it’s important to take care of the entire musculoskeletal system by maintaining overall good health

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are various health complications that arise from tendons, joints, bones, muscles, ligaments, or bursas.

Below we outline the most common MSDs, why they occur, and their symptoms.

Common Musculoskeletal Conditions

Tendinitis

Tendinitis is when the tissue connecting muscle to bone experiences swelling, pain, and inflammation. Tendinitis can happen to any tendon in the body, mainly in the shoulders, heels, wrists, and knees. This includes common conditions like swimmer's shoulder and tennis elbow.

Tendinitis often occurs from repetitious movement.. In the case of swimmer's shoulder, the constant and sustained rotation of the shoulder inflames the tendon. Of course, a sudden injury can also cause tendinitis.

Overall, the most common cause of tendinitis is the repetitious movement of tendons that we do on an everyday basis, such as typing or playing the piano.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

When the median nerve (also known as the laborer's nerve) of the forearm is affected negatively, you can acquire carpal tunnel syndrome. The median nerve becomes compressed, usually by regular pressure on your wrist. Other health factors, like diabetes, arthritis, and hypertension, can increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

When suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, swelling and numbness is a standard set of symptoms. To avoid this, we recommend regularly stretching your hands, wrists, and forearms. Relieving the pressure on the median nerve is crucial to preventing discomfort and injury.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the process of your joint tissue breaking down over time. When osteoarthritis sets in, you can experience severe joint stiffness, swelling, pain, and overall decreased ability of movement.

Typical joints affected are those in the knee, hips, and lower back. A few common causes are weight, age, genetics, and overuse of certain joints.

While anyone is technically at risk for osteoarthritis, those most at risk are people over the age of 50.

Common Symptoms of MSDs

Some telltale signs of potential musculoskeletal conditions and injury are things like:

  • Swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Aches

What Are MSD Risk Factors?

So, what makes people susceptible to musculoskeletal disorders? Some of it depends on job and activity level. However,  the most important factor is age. Younger people can be at risk for these conditions, but often, those over the age of 50 present with musculoskeletal disorders. Over time, cartilage, joints, and tissue naturally wear down, causing these various disorders.

There are a few simple ways to maximize musculoskeletal health, which can minimize pain and increase mobility. Let's explore a few different effective approaches.

1. Stretch

Stretching is one of the most important and easiest ways to improve flexibility and muscle strength. Stretching isn't just a practice for a cardio workout. If you want to stay healthy in general, you should stretch every day. Not stretching your muscles can lead to loss of flexibility, tightness, and eventually lead to injury or other musculoskeletal conditions.

By engaging in regular movements in your daily routine, you automatically lower the chances of sudden injury or discomfort. For example, simply taking regular walks can do wonders for your musculoskeletal health. “We want our patients to put an emphasis on taking walks and exercising,” says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Beharrie. “You'd be surprised by the benefits of regularly taking walks."

2. Set Goals for Yourself

Whether you're lifting weights, long-distance running, or playing golf, setting attainable goals is a great way to focus on physical fitness and your health. When setting goals for yourself, you’re able to home in on areas of exercise you need to improve upon, like dieting, workouts, and sports.

Setting exercise goals for yourself can serve as both motivation and a helpful roadmap to what you want out of physical activity.

3. Drink Plenty of Water

Hydrating yourself gives your body all it needs. Regular hydration keeps organs functioning, joints lubricated, and the cells in your body flourishing. It even improves sleep and your cognitive abilities.

Hydrating can stimulate also reduce painful inflammation, keeping you active for longer.

But what’s the right amount of water to drink daily? Well, it depends on a few factors, like how often you exercise, where you live, and any preexisting health conditions.

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that the ideal amount of water per day should be around 16 cups of fluids a day for men and about 12 cups for women.

Final Thoughts on Maintaining and Improving Musculoskeletal Health

Keeping your joints, tendons, and ligaments healthy is an essential to overall health and wellness.

At Summit Health, we take general orthopedics and musculoskeletal conditions seriously. Our orthopedic specialists, bolstered by the addition of doctors from Active Orthopedics, are dedicated to helping you keep your body in shape.

Want to schedule an appointment at one of our many locations throughout New Jersey and New York? Call us at 844-SMG-ORTHO (764-6784), or view our general orthopedic team.