Musculoskeletal pain

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ nr. 42 on Radio X from 29 September 2014

I’m Tom Meyers and welcome to another episode of Health Matters. In Health Matters I share with you my personal experience as an osteopath and stress coach, bring you scientific insights and pass on practical tips how to manage stress and improve your health and well-being.

This week, lets take a closer look – with an example – at this biopsychosocial aspect of health that I mentioned in the previous episode of Health Matters and that is at the same time the underlying mechanism of dis-ease. The example I will use to illustrate this aspect  comes straight from my practice: Musculoskeletal pain. Many patients come to see me, for neck, shoulder or back pain and what I mostly hear patients say as cause is I’m working on the computer all day, my chair at work isn’t the best, I’m not sitting straight, my computer screen isn’t at the right height, I’ve been working with the computer mouse a lot,… or in other words patients most often refer as the cause of their discomfort ergonomic or postural issues.

And yes prolonged static postures or repetitive movements can lead to muscular chronic tension and eventually pain.

This biomechanical link has been researched extensively, and although the link seems logical, it will probably surprise you when I tell you that scientific studies time and time again show, that it is not the main problem. There is in fact only limited evidence for a causal relationship between computer work, computer mouse and keyboard time and neck, shoulder and musculoskeletal pain.

In other words the desk, the mouse, the posture are contributors… however hey aren’t the main cause of your pain.

So what is?

Turns out the biggest contributors are psychosocial factors… yes job stress… workload, deadlines, information overload, reorganisations….

These psychosocial factors on a behavioural level prompt you to work longer hours, have a faster pace at work and makes you take less breaks to give but a few examples.

On a physiological level these factors contribute to triggering the stress response witch increases heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol and adrenaline levels and heightens muscular tension.

Chronic stress also leads to mood changes, anxiety and depression and those change your posture and thus contribute to musculoskeletal problems…

At the end of the day it all adds up posture, ergonomics, pressure, psychosocial factors.

Health or the absence of health can’t be reduced to just one cause it is always a combination of many things hence the term biopsychosocial.

So when you have next musculoskeletal pain take a moment to see what has been happening in your life lately. What changes have taken place that has got you all tied-up. Are you still in control of your pain or has it been weeks now that you’ve been suffering?

If it has been some time then maybe you should consider some professional help.

For more information about my work and how I can help you or to listen to this episode or previous episodes of Health Matters again then visit my website

That’s all for this episode have a great day and I’ll catch up with you again next week here on Radio X.


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