Intervertebral Disc Disease vs. Musculoskeletal Disorder

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Intervertebral disc disease is a condition that affects intervertebral discs due to wear and tear (Baldwin, 2014). This disease affects individuals of all ages but is common among adults due to the effects of aging. The discs act as buffers thus and protect vertebral bones from injury (Baldwin, 2014). Due to continued use, the discs lose their natural elasticity and fluidity and are thus subjected to pressure and force from body movements. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are minor physical injuries and disabilities that affect body tissues and organs such as bones, muscles, joints, hips, legs, knees, shoulders, and wrists (Handler, 2005). Risk factors that dispose individuals to these disorders include age, occupation, activity level, and type of lifestyle.

Signs and symptoms

Intervertebral disc disease and musculoskeletal disorders have certain symptoms in common. They include pain, body aches, poor posture, and difficulties walking and working. These symptoms are caused by the inability of affected organs or tissues to function effectively due o injury or inflammation. In both cases, pain is experienced in varying degrees depending on the type of injury and the body part affected. However, different body parts are affected and the pain is experienced in different body organs and tissues. Intervertebral disc disease and musculoskeletal disorders affect the lives of victims adversely. Victims exhibit poor posture and experience difficulties when walking, twisting their bodies, and working.

Intervertebral disc disease

The signs and symptoms of intervertebral disc disease include sharp pain in the posterior belt line, numbness in arms and legs, backache, and severe headaches (Baldwin, 2014). Backache pain usually emanates from two main areas that include the vertebral joints and the spinal nerves. Pain that originates from the intervertebral discs intensifies when a patient stands, sits, or engages in an activity that stretches the back. Pain intensifies due to increased pressure on the spine.

Pain also results from movement of the upper body, coughing, and sneezing (Baldwin, 2014). The neck and arms hurt due to the pressing of damaged discs against the spinal nerves. Whenever the spinal nerves stretch and compress, they result in numbness in the neck, arms, and legs. In the case of damaged vertebral joints, patients experience pain on the lower back especially when standing or rotating their upper bodies (Baldwin, 2014). Damaged Intervertebral discs also cause headaches. The pain that emanates from movement of intervertebral discs causes tension in the neck and results in severe headaches.

Symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders affect the daily lives of victims negatively. The major symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders include recurrent pain, stiff and painful joints, dull aches, and swelling in certain body parts (Handler, 2005). Other symptoms include itchy muscles, decreased range of motion, redness of affected parts, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and inflammation of certain body parts. The disorders affect several body parts including legs, arms, hands, feet, neck, shoulders, and the back. In certain cases, victims complain of pain in the entire body due to transfer of pain to different body regions (Handler, 2005). Musculoskeletal disorders make patients feel exhausted. The muscles of patients either burn or shudder.

Treatment of Intervertebral disc disease

Pharmacotherapy is the main treatment approach used to treat intervertebral disc disease (Kraemer, 2011). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications have been shown to treat the disease effectively. Other medications used include muscle relaxants, salicylates, and acetaminophen (Kraemer, 2011). Examples of drugs used to relax muscles include cyclobenzaprine and benzodiazepines.

Drugs used to reduce pain and eradicate inflammations include naproxen, ketoprofen, flubriprofen, and ibuprofen (Kraemer, 2011). Severe cases of intervertebral disc disease are treated using surgery. This occurs in patients who fail to respond to other treatment remedies. Spinal fusion and disectomy are examples of commonly used surgical remedies (Kraemer, 2011). The treatment of intervertebral disc disease is more intense and specific unlike that of musculoskeletal disorders that is only aimed at alleviating pain.

Treatment of musculoskeletal disorders

Unlike in the treatment of intervertebral disc disease, surgery is not used in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. Treatment remedies include therapy, medications, and acupuncture. Different forms of manual therapy are applied to align the spines of patients. In the case of inflammations, certain medications are used. Examples of drugs used include acetaminophen and opioids (Handler, 2005). Medications are also sued to increase the levels of certain hormones such as serotonin in the body in order to reduce pain and induce sleep (Handler, 2005). Drugs that aid patients in falling asleep include zolpidem and rozerem. Other treatment approaches that are commonly used include physical exercise, chiropractic care, and osteopathic manipulation.


Intervertebral disc disease and musculoskeletal disorders are both characterized by pain that affects the efficiency and activity of victims adversely. MSDs affect body parts that include knees, hands, arms, the shoulder, and neck. On the other hand, intervertebral disc disease affects the discs of the back. The pain is originates from vertebral joints, nerves of the spine, and the Intervertebral joints. The treatment of MSDs involves the use of manual therapy and drugs to alleviate pain. On the other hand, treatment of intervertebral disc disease involves surgery and medication to reduce pain and eliminate inflammations. Therapy is the dominant method of treating musculoskeletal disorders.


Baldwin, J. F. (2014). Lumbar (Intervertebral) Disk Disorders. Web.

Handler, N. M. (2005). Occupational Musculoskeletal Disorders. New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Kraemer, J. (2011). Intervertebral Disk Diseases: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prophylaxis. New York: Thieme.

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