Written by: Cynthia A Garcia, MD
Board Certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
DHR Health Integrated MSK Center
MSK stands for musculoskeletal (musculo = muscles and tendons; skeletal = bones, joints, and ligaments).
In the medical world, problems encompassing the MSK system present as pain and disability. Musculoskeletal diseases affect 50% of people in the U.S. over 18 years of age and 75% of those over the age of 65. Have you noticed the older we become, the more our aches and pains enter our breakfast conversations with our friends?!
Diseases of the MSK system span complaints involving joints, as well as the muscles and tendons that move these joints. As we have lived longer and experienced more obesity, our knees and hips have suffered. Greater than 1 million hip and knee joint replacements are performed each year due to osteoarthritis-damaged joints. The MSK approach often includes early intervention with simple practices, such as corrective shoe inserts, stretches, and exercises that delay or prevent damage.
Nerves can also get caught up in these movable parts/areas. As MSK clinicians, we pay close attention to all symptoms and attempt to tease out the underlying culprit. What presents as “sciatica” may represent true spinal nerve root impingement, a pelvic rotation/dysfunction, or a muscle imbalance. In the initial stages, all these causes can be treated conservatively (non-surgically).
Numerous specialists treat MSK ailments, albeit with different approaches. Much depends on the training they received. Now, more than ever, the medical-team approach is warranted. No one doctor, therapist, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner can know everything. The field of MSK is rarely addressed in medical training. Just ask any primary care clinician if they were ever taught how to perform a thorough back examinations. One would think it would be mandatory in physician training since 1 in 3 adults suffer from chronic lower back pain. It is not.
Would you know where to get help if you had an MSK issue? Figuring out how to navigate through the different MSK specialties is often tricky. For this reason, DHR has developed an Integrated MSK Center (IMC), comprised of highly qualified MSK specialists. The DHR Health IMC began a lecture series, “I Hurt Here,” to share MSK knowledge with community clinicians in order to provide RGV patients with the most accurate diagnoses and treatment options. Community lectures on common MSK ailments are being scheduled, and DHR has set up a wonderful MSK Call Center.
Any community member in the RGV experiencing MSK symptoms can call the MSK Call Center. Our highly trained staff will direct you to the most appropriate DHR MSK provider. Call 956-362-1MSK today!