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MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS >> Symptoms

Joint Noises
Joint noises, such as creaks and clicks, are common in many people, but they can also occur with specific problems of the joints. For example, the base of the knee cap may creak when it is damaged by osteoarthritis, and the jaw may click in a person who has temporomandibular joint disorder. Further evaluation and treatment are needed only if the evaluation suggests a significant joint problem. Joint noises themselves do not require treatment.

Joint Stiffness
Stiffness is the feeling that motion of a joint is limited or difficult. The feeling is not caused by weakness or reluctance to move the joint due to pain. Some people with stiffness are capable of moving the joint through its full range of motion. Joint stiffness usually occurs or is worse immediately after awakening or resting. Stiffness is common with arthritis. Morning stiffness commonly occurs with rheumatoid arthritis and other types of inflammatory arthritis in which stiffness typically occurs on arising and gradually lessens with activity only after an hour or two.

Difficulty Movement
A person may have difficulty moving all or part of the body.Moving may be difficult because of disorders that restrict joint motion or that cause weakness. Movement may also be limited when motion causes pain. Certain nervous system abnormalities interfere with movement without causing pain or weakness. For example, Parkinson’s disease causes muscle stiffness, tremor, and difficulty initiating movement. A joint that is stiffened by scar tissue from a previous injury can have limited range and speed of motion. When a normal joint is not used, it may stiffen.

Weakness
Although many people complain of weakness when they feel tired or run down, true weakness means that full effort does not generate normal muscle contractions. Normal voluntary muscle contraction requires that the brain generate a signal that then travels through the spinal cord and nerves to reach a normally functioning muscle.

Therefore, true weakness can result from injury or disease affecting the nervous system, muscles, or connections between them (neuromuscular junction).

Pain
Pain is the chief symptom of most musculoskeletal disorders. The pain may be mild or severe, local or widespread (diffuse).

Although pain may be acute or short lived, as is the case with many injuries, pain may be ongoing with chronic illnesses, such as arthritis.

Musculoskeletal pain can be caused by damage to bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bursae, or nerves. Injuries are the most common cause. If no injury has occurred or if pain persists for more than a few days, then another cause is often responsible.

Bone pain is usually deep, penetrating, or dull. It commonly results from injury. Other less common causes of bone pain include bone infection (osteomyelitis) and tumors.

Muscle pain is often less intense than bone pain but can be very unpleasant. For example, a muscle spasm or cramp (a sustained painful muscle contraction) in the calf is an intense pain that is commonly called a charley horse. Pain can occur when a muscle is affected by an injury, an autoimmune reaction (for example, polymyositis or dermatomyositis), loss of blood flow to the muscle, infection, or invasion by a tumor.

Tendon and ligament pain is often less intense than bone pain. It is often worse when the affected tendon or ligament is stretched or moved. Common causes of tendon pain include tendinitis, tenosynovitis, lateral and medial epicondylitis, and tendon injuries. Common causes of ligament pain include injuries (sprains).

Fibromyalgia may cause pain in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments. The pain is usually in multiple locations and may be difficult to describe precisely. Affected people usually have other symptoms.

Virtually all joint injuries and diseases produce a stiff, aching pain, often referred to as "arthritic" pain. The pain is worse when the joint is moved and may range from mild to severe. With some conditions, there may be swelling of the joint along with the pain. Joint inflammation (arthritis) is a common cause of joint pain.

Some musculoskeletal disorders cause pain by compressing nerves. These conditions include the "tunnel syndromes" (for example, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, and tarsal tunnel syndrome). The pain tends to radiate along the path supplied by the nerve and may be burning.

Bursal pain can be caused by bursitis or fibromyalgia. Usually, bursal pain is worse with movement involving the bursa. There may be swelling.

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