Musculoskeletal Injuries

The Musculoskeletal system refers to the structure comprised of the skeletal frame and soft tissues enabling humans to physically move. Physical Therapy helps treat numerous musculoskeletal injuries and through hands on treatment of the soft tissues.

The bodies' soft tissues consist of:

Here are some of the main types of injuries associated with the above soft tissues:


A strain refers to an injury in a muscle or tendon (part of the muscle joining muscle to bone) which is caused by pulling or twisting of the muscle. Strains can be either acute or chronic, and people with a strain experience pain, muscle spasm and muscle weakness.
Localised swelling, cramping or inflammation is also common mainly caused by internal bleeding caused by the strain.

There are 3 grades of muscle strain:


A partial or complete cessation of muscle fibres and continuity. Ruptures are an acute injury occurring frequently in sports that involve explosive muscular activity when the load placed on the muscle is greater than the muscle strength.

Contributing factors involve:


Tendonitis is simply inflammation of the tendon that arises from continuous use of the joint, weakened ligaments and some pathological predispositions. Constant use of the inflamed tendon can lead to a tendon rupture or tear. Strengthening the joint and rest can help avoid tendonitis.


A sprain refers to damage to a ligament, a ligament is the fibrous band which connects bone to bone. Ligaments have a greater tensile strength than tendons and can withstand forces in numerous directions.
An acute sprain is caused by sudden twisting or wrenching of a joint, chronic sprains occur when the joint undergoes continues stretching and force often from poor posture or bad mechanics.

Note: Ligaments are less vascularised (thus has less blood supply) than other soft tissues, as a result they heal slowly. Physical therapy can speed up recovery by increasing blood flow to the area and prevent adhesions.


Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa sac caused by excessive movement of ligaments, muscles or bone over the area. The bursa is a small sac filled with fluid to prevent friction between two structures, e.g. muscle and tendon or tendon and bone.
Repeated minor trauma or an inflammatory disease (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis) often contributes to the aggravation of the bursa leading to pain in the area, redness and swelling.


Fascia is a continuous band of connective tissue covering muscles, organs and the majority of skeletal structures. Like muscle, fascia can become distorted by overuse and trauma and can cause pain and limited range of motion.

Common fascial injuries include:

The muscles in front of the shin bone are contained in one fascial compartment, as the muscle exercises, fluid collects and the tightness of the fascia causes compression which can bring on pain often known as shin splints.

Cartilage damage

The main type of cartilage which is of concern to injuries is fibrocartilage. This type of cartilage is present in both the knee and spine to help provide additional cushioning from compressive forces.
It is important to note that cartilage does not have a vascular or nerve supply thus pain is not felt in the cartilage itself but the structures that it interferes with.
However, cartilage is susceptible to several types of injuries, compressive forces being the most frequent, resulting in degeneration to the menisci of the knee and intervertebral disc herniation or "slipped disc".