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Musculoskeletal Pain

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Musculoskeletal pain can occur in muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, or nerves. The pain can be dull, achy, or sharp. You may have pain and tenderness to the touch as well. The pain can occur anywhere in your body. Musculoskeletal pain can be from an injury, or a medical condition such as polymyositis.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have severe pain when you move the area.
  • You lose feeling in the area.
  • You have new or worse pain or swelling in the area. Your skin may feel tight.

Call your doctor or pain specialist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have pain that does not get better with treatment.
  • You have trouble sleeping because of your pain.
  • Your painful area becomes more tender, red, and warm to the touch.
  • You have less movement of the painful area.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Self-care:

  • Rest as directed. Avoid activity that causes pain. You may be able to return to normal activity when you can move without pain. Follow directions for rest and activity. You are at risk for injury for 3 weeks after your symptoms go away.
  • Ice the painful area to decrease pain and swelling. Use an ice pack, or put ice in a plastic bag and cover it with a towel. Always put a cloth between the ice and your skin. Apply the ice as often as directed for the first 24 to 48 hours.
  • Apply compression to the area, if directed. Your healthcare provider may want you to use a splint, brace, or elastic bandage. Compression helps decrease pain and swelling in an arm or leg. A splint, brace, or bandage will also help protect the painful area when you move around.
    How to Wrap an Elastic Bandage
  • Elevate a painful arm or leg to reduce swelling and pain. Elevate your limb while you are sitting or lying. Prop a painful leg on pillows to keep it above the level of your heart.

    Elevate Leg

Medicines:

You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • Muscle relaxers help relax your muscles to decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Steroids may be given to decrease redness, pain, and swelling.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your doctor or pain specialist as directed:

You may need more tests to help healthcare providers find the cause of your muscle pain. You may need physical therapy to learn muscle strengthening exercises. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Musculoskeletal Pain (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.