Musculoskeletal disorders are very common, with around one in five people attending general practice with a musculoskeletal (MSK) condition each year.1 These problems range from inflammatory and degenerative arthritis to mechanical back pain and simple strains.
In many cases, the predominant feature of an MSK condition is pain. General practice nurses may also see people in the course of their daily work who are clearly suffering from pain which is not well managed – for example, the patient who struggles to walk from the waiting room to the consulting room due to MSK pain.
This article reviews current approaches to pain management for MSK pain, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological, and considers the benefits and side-effects of these treatments.
The current evidence-based guideline on the management of pain in osteoarthritis provides useful information.2 Some aspects of the NICE guideline for managing people with inflammatory joint disease may also be useful.3