The term “musculoskeletal disorders” encompasses a series of inflammatory, and often painful, injuries affecting bones, muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments.
Types of Musculoskeletal Disorders
Usually, musculoskeletal disorders are classified either by the affected body part or by the incident or body mechanism that set off the pain.
The most common types include:
Injuries due to abrupt accident
This is by far the most common type of musculoskeletal injury. It usually results from a fall or blunt trauma. It can express itself as a complete bone fracture, a sprained joint or ligament, or a dislocation.
These injuries vary in severity and location, but most commonly affect the extremities. The treatment and prognosis will depend largely on the extent of the damage. However, the promptness of first aid and the accuracy of any early intervention will also affect recovery.
Repetitive stress injuries
This type of injury includes hairline fractures, joint or ligament inflammation, and temporary loss of mobility. The unifying factor is that, rather than being caused by a particular incident, they come about due to the strain caused by repetitive motions or continuous minor impact.
Because of this, repetitive stress injuries tend to affect the feet and legs in particular. Other times, they are a workplace-related injury.
Besides, many conditions affecting the spine are also caused by repetitive stress, especially if they stem from poor posture.
Largely affecting the muscles, overuse injuries result from an excessive amount of exertion that the body is not accustomed to. This type includes hernias, tendinitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome
Systemic musculoskeletal disorders
Unlike the types mentioned above, systemic or generalized musculoskeletal disorders are not caused by any type of injury. Rather, they can be considered a subtype of autoimmune disorders: they are caused by chronic inflammation or neurological issues, which inflame joints, bones or ligaments.
Systemic musculoskeletal disorders usually affect several joints or limbs at the same time. They also tend to flare up under specific triggers, causing repeated bouts of pain.
Treatment of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Treatment for musculoskeletal injuries usually focuses on repairing the damage and regaining any loss function or mobility.
Elevation, immobilization and rest
The exact interventions will vary depending on the type of injury. Milder injuries are often treated with rest, elevation, and NSAIDs. Occasionally, a cast or immobilizing bandage needs to be used to ensure the joint or bone is given time to heal on its own.
When a patient suffers from extensive fractures, torn ligaments, or broken cartilage, more extensive surgeries may be needed, as well as interventions such as ligament repair, bone replacement, and grafts.
In such cases, Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can be used to speed up recovery, even among patients who were initially looking at the possibility of permanent residual damage. These treatments take advantage of the possibility of differentiating MSCs into any other type of tissue, in this case, osteoblasts. In this way, the cultured patient’s own MSCs can be processed int a bone-forming 3D apparatus and used to produce new bone tissue in any shape or size. Alternatively, MSCs can be directly injected to speed up the recovery from complex bone fractures.
Cartilage and ligament repair
Mesenchymal Stem cells can be aspirated from a patient’s bone marrow, or generated from fat cells following liposuction. Then, they can be differentiated into cartilage-forming cells (chondrocytes), and then injected close to the site of the injury.
When combined with demineralized bone matrix or hyaluronic acid or platelet-rich plasma, this mode of treatment can effectively eliminate the damage caused by secondary inflammation. In the case of sports injuries or devastating trauma, a patient can regain full mobility in even in load-bearing joints such as the one on the knee. It can also relieve the painful episodes created by degenerative osteoarthritis and autoimmune joint disorders.