Pain is the chief symptom of most musculoskeletal disorders. The pain may be dull, sharp, radiating, or local and may be mild or severe. Although pain may be acute (short-lived), as is the case with most injuries, it may become chronic (ongoing) with illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis. Muscle pain is known as myalgia.
Arthritis: Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain, swelling and/or stiffness in a joint (especially after use), joint discomfort before or during a change in the weather, bony lumps on the fingers, and loss of joint flexibility. The joints that are most often affected by osteoarthritis include the fingers, spine, and weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, ankles, feet, and knees.
Rheumatoid arthritis often affects many joints at the same time, and the severity of symptoms varies among patients. Symptoms, which may come and go, typically include pain and swelling in the joints (especially in the hands and feet), generalized aching or stiffness of the joints and muscles (especially after periods of rest), loss of motion of the affected joints, weakness in the muscles near the affected joints, low-grade fever, and general feeling of discomfort. Early in the disease, the joints in the hands, wrists, feet, and knees are most frequently affected. Over time, arthritis may develop in the shoulders, elbows, jaw, hips, and neck. In addition to the joints, rheumatoid arthritis may cause swelling in the tear ducts, salivary glands, the lining of the heart, the lungs, and occasionally, blood vessels.
Muscular dystrophy: Signs and symptoms of muscular dystrophy vary according to the type of muscular dystrophy. In general, they may include muscle weakness, apparent lack of coordination, and progressive crippling, resulting in contractures of the muscles around the joints and loss of mobility.
Fibromyalgia: The primary symptoms of fibromyalgia include widespread musculoskeletal pain, severe fatigue (tiredness), and sleep disturbances. Fibromyalgia may cause pain in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments. The pain is usually in multiple locations and may be difficult to describe precisely.
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