Are you experiencing aching or stiffness in your bones or joints? Does your back frequently hurt? You may be suffering from musculoskeletal pain, which can affect several parts of your body. Although this chronic pain may be uncomfortable, there are a number of ways it can be treated to help minimize pain and allow you to live a healthy, active lifestyle. Better yet, your doctor may be able to recommend ways to treat your pain that do not require medication.\nBefore a doctor can prescribe a course of treatment, you need to learn what is causing muscle and bone aches. To learn more about what could be causing your pain, check out the answers to some commonly asked questions from Megan Cortazzo, MD, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.\nWhat Is Musculoskeletal Pain and Which Parts of the Body Can be Affected?\nMusculoskeletal pain can affect your bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and tendons. Some people experience discomfort in only one area, but others may have a more widespread sensation.\nWhat Is Causing My Musculoskeletal Pain?\nDiscomfort may be caused by an injury resulting from things like car accidents, dislocations, falls, or fractures and sprains. Overuse, which is common in back pain, also can cause musculoskeletal pain.\nWhat Are the Symptoms of Musculoskeletal Pain?\nMusculoskeletal pain symptoms can vary from person to person, but generally include:\n\nAching\nStiffness\nFatigue\nBurning sensation in muscles\nTrouble sleeping\nMuscle twitching\n\nWhen Do I Need to See My Doctor?\nIf you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with musculoskeletal pain, you should see your doctor right away for a thorough exam. Your doctor may refer you to a physiatrist, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, who is specially trained to diagnose and treat pain.\nHow Is Musculoskeletal Pain Diagnosed?\nYour doctor or physiatrist will take your medical history, asking several questions about your pain, such as when and where you experience symptoms and sensations, and whether the pain is something you feel all the time. Your doctor will also want to know how your pain affects your function in order to restore your ability to perform everyday activities. Typically the physician will perform a hands-on exam in the affected area(s). Blood tests, x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs may also be used to pinpoint the cause and type of your pain, and to help your doctor determine the best treatment for you.\nAre There Treatment Options for Musculoskeletal Pain Other than Surgery and Medication?\nYour doctor may suggest a combination of treatment options, including:\n\nAcupuncture\nChiropractic care\nHeat or cold therapy\nInjections\nPhysical or occupational therapy\nReducing workload and increasing rest\nRelaxation and biofeedback techniques\nSplinting the affected joint to allow it to heal\nStrengthening and conditioning exercises\nStretching\nTherapeutic massage\n\nHow can these treatments help relieve my pain?\nTreatments are most effective when they are used to treat the cause of pain, and restore losses or changes in function. A physiatrist will take the time to identify the source of your pain, and choose a treatment plan specific to your needs.\nFor more information on musculoskeletal pain treatments, talk to your doctor or schedule an appointment with the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialists at UPMC.