Musculoskeletal pain can be caused by trauma to a particular area due to auto accidents, fractures, sprains, dislocations, sudden jerking moments or overuse of certain muscles. It could also be due to poor posture, repetitive movements, or lack of physical activity due to a sedentary lifestyle.
Anyone can suffer from musculoskeletal pain. From teenagers playing sports, to office workers starting out in their careers, middle-aged taxi drivers or elderly caregivers.
In particular, a study1 conducted by the Singapore General Hospital on the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) among office workers in Singapore found that 73.4% of the 324 respondents reported experiencing pain in at least one of the body parts. The body parts with the highest report of pain were the neck (46%), shoulder (42%) and low back (42%).
Delays in treatment can cause further pain
However, in terms of seeking treatment, Mr Cheng Guang Hao, Head of TOUCH Home Care and TOUCH Day Rehabilitation Centre shares that people will only seek help when the pain becomes unbearable. Some might also postpone seeking treatment due to busy work schedules or caregiving commitments. As a result, this acute pain gradually develops into chronic pain.
Delaying treatment can lead to faulty movement patterns, higher stress levels due to pain or activity limitations, and higher dependence on pain medication. All these factors will layer on each other to bring about a profound change in the central nervous system, which can amplify the sensation of pain and symptoms. Furthermore, those dependent on physical activities for their work or school could be further impacted if the pain worsens to the point where they are unable to continue with those activities.
This is why it is important for both young and old to seek pain treatment early.
Here he shares some simple tips to mitigate the pain.
1. Maintain a good posture
Posture directly affects musculoskeletal health. Good posture helps to evenly distribute your weight in your body. This in turn reduces stress on the muscles and spine, which might otherwise result in aches or injuries.
2. Stretch regularly
Majority of Singaporeans lead sedentary lifestyles. However, sitting for long periods might lead to postural tension and muscle aches. Thus, it is recommended to stand up at regular intervals to help relieve strains and tension. One can also consider doing some light stretching to ease the ache.
3. Adopt good ergonomics' practices
Ergonomics is the science of identifying and optimising a work environment to accommodate to the user’s physical and psychological needs. Having good ergonomic practices can help to improve work efficiency, health, and comfort at work. Depending on the industry, one can choose to adopt the most suitable best practices. In a common office environment, for example, one should keep the shoulders relaxed when using the mouse or keyboard. One can also consider sitting properly, with the back fully supported by a backrest or back support.
However, the key is to not stay in one position for too long. Take regular breaks when you are seated at your desk for a prolonged period of time.
If you continue to experience pain, don’t brush that pain away. Do seek help early to mitigate its effects.
TOUCH Musculoskeletal Clinic taps on TOUCH’s decades of experience in caregivers support and eldercare expertise to provide quality, affordable and accessible physiotherapy services. If you or your family members are experiencing any muscle or joint pains you may also contact us at [email protected] or call 6804 6555 (TOUCH Care Line from Mon to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or visit www.touch.org.sg/msk.