Muscle and joint pain

Pain that affects muscles, tendons, joints nerves and ligaments is mostly known as musculoskeletal (MSK) pain or muscle and joint pain. The type of MSK conditions can range from minor injuries to long-term conditions. Symptoms can include pain, stiffness, limited movement and disability. Musculoskeletal health conditions can affect many people. Depending on how serious your condition is, the pain can affect your quality of life and independence. You can find more about the different types of muscle and joint pain and advice on managing the pain below.

Types of muscle and joint pain

There are different types of MSK conditions that you can experience:

  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Back pain
  • Whiplash (neck pain)
  • Sprains (partial or complete tearing of ligaments and tissues at the joint)
  • Strains
  • Arthritis
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome.

Managing musculoskeletal health and pain

There are some things you can do to ease joint pain yourself without visiting your GP.

  • If you have had a sprain or a strain injury, do try to rest and not put any pressure on it
  • Putting an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a towel on the painful area for up to 20 minutes every two-three hours will help relieve some of the pain
  • Take painkillers, such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol. You shouldn’t take Ibuprofen in the first 48 hours after an injury
  • Don’t carry anything heavy
  • It’s important to keep moving the affected joint. Some gentle movement will help make it better.

When to see a GP about musculoskeletal health

You should see your GP if you are in severe pain, the pain gets worse or if it’s stopping you from doing your day-to-day activities.

You can book an appointment online to see your GP using our online system.

When to go to hospital

You should call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • You have very bad joint pain after a fall or injury
  • You’re unable to walk or put any weight on a joint
  • Your joint has moved out of place
  • You have any tingling or no feeling in the area around your joint after an injury.