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Muscle and joint pain may not exist in isolation from other health complaints

CO-MORBIDITY

People sometimes suffer from multiple health complaints at the same time, which is known as CO-MORBIDITY. Sometimes this is coincidence, and the presence of different disorders are unrelated. At other times there may be links between co-existing disorders. For example, our team of researchers at Curtin University has just published research that found a link between musculoskeletal pain and restless leg syndrome in young adults from the Raine Study.

SHARED UNDERLYING MECHANISMS

At first glance it may be difficult to understand why there might be a link between a neurological condition like restless leg syndrome and musculoskeletal pain. Associations between different disorders, such as musculoskeletal pain and restless leg syndrome, suggest underlying processes related to both health complaints. In this case, the link may be that chemical changes in the body related to restless leg syndrome can also impact on the way the body processes pain signals.

Restless leg syndrome is only one example of of a health disorder that is co-morbid with musculoskeletal pain. Mental health disorders are well known to be co-morbid with musculoskeletal pain disorders. Other example may be digestive track disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER

Frequently, people will not understand or notice potential links between co-morbid health complaints. However, assessment of co-morbidities may assist health care practitioners in understanding what underlies a persons pain complaint. This can help your health care practitioner better match your treatment to your presentation. It may also assist in estimating how you might respond to different types of treatments.
WORKING WITH YOUR HEALTH PRACTITIONER TO UNDERSTAND POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS OF MULTIPLE HEALTH COMPLAINTS MAY ASSIST IN THE MANAGEMENT OF PAIN

Picture from THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY DIGITAL COLLECTION

Dr Darren Beales (PhD)

Dr Darren Beales (PhD)

Darren is a Specialist Physiotherapist whose clinical practice focuses on complex musculoskeletal presentations, providing specialist opinions and management. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at Curtin University, presently holding an NHMRC Research Fellowship. Darren is a Specialist Physiotherapist whose clinical practice focuses on complex musculoskeletal presentations, providing specialist opinions and management. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at Curtin University, presently holding an NHMRC Research Fellowship.

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