Musculoskeletal Disorders and Intervertebral Diseases

The Pathological Process in Intervertebral Disc Disorder

Intervertebral disc disorder involves the weakening of the body, herniation and general dysfunction of the intervertebral disc (Grossman & Porth, 2014). The nucleus pulposus loses its fluid as an individual becomes older. As a result, its ability to transport materials between the vertebrae reduces (Grossman & Porth, 2014). Therefore, the materials move in a non-uniform manner via the anulus fibrosus. The structure of the anulus fibrosus deteriorates progressively (Grossman & Porth, 2014). The dehydration of the nucleus pulposus makes it unable to absorb shocks that the joints encounter. Hence, the patient feels pain as a result of the unabsorbed shocks.

The aging process may also cause the tearing of the annulus fibrosus. As a result, the nucleus pulposus begins to extrude through the torn point (Grossman & Porth, 2014). Medical experts refer to this process as disc herniation. Herniated discs, usually, press against the nerves. In the process, they radiate the pain to other parts of the body. Other effects include numbness, tingling and deterioration in the patient’s strength.

The Pathological Process of the Musculoskeletal Disorder

Musculoskeletal disorders are aches or injuries that occur in the joints, nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments of the body. They occur due to degenerations and inflammations that cause pain and the impairment of the activities of body joints. Biomechanical loads are the main cause of the disorder. Such loads are what must be applied to perform a job. They also include the period the force is applied and the frequency the force takes to perform the task. The body is likely to encounter MSD due to the use of heavy forces in performing tasks, remaining in non-neutral positions and repetition of movements (Grossman & Porth, 2014).

Signs and Symptoms of the Intervertebral Disc Disease

Pain in the neck or back. Tenseness or tenderness in the abdomen. Lower abdominal pain that increases when standing, sitting, coughing or sneezing.

Pains in the neck can radiate into the head to cause headaches. Activities such as bending, weight lifting and twisting may worsen the pains. Serious episodes of pain in the back-they can last between some days to several months before they go back to the baseline pain of the patient. Patients may feel better while running than when sitting or standing. Changing positions frequently may also make the patient feel better. Postures that relieve stress on the vertebral disc may make the patient feel better (Grossman & Porth, 2014).

Signs and Symptoms of Musculoskeletal Disorder

Pain in the joints; Joint stiffness; Muscles tightness.

Some patients feel “pin and needle” sensations; Numbness; Skin color changes; Decreased sweating of the hands.

Aches and fatigue in affected areas-mostly occur while the worker is on duty, but absent at night and when he or she is not on duty. The worker’s performance is not affected. The aches and fatigue persist in later stages of the development of the disorder. The patient feels them even at night and his performance of the job is reduced (Hadler, 2005). In the last stage of the development of the disease, the pains and fatigue persist even when the patient is at rest. He cannot sleep at night (Hadler, 2005).

Difference in the Treatment of Intervertebral Disease and Musculoskeletal Disorder

Though both the musculoskeletal disorder and intervertebral diseases mostly require anti-inflammatories such as acetaminophen, other forms of treatment differ substantially. For example, the musculoskeletal disorder requires medication that increases the level of serotonin and norepinephrine (they influence sleep, pain and immunity) while intervertebral diseases mainly require surgery (Hadler, 2005). Spinal injections, weight loss and stem cell therapy are also very important in the treatment of intervertebral diseases. However, they are not used in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders because its treatment mainly concentrates on the treatment of muscular inflammations.


Grossman, S & Porth, C. (2014). Porth’s Pathophysiology. Philadelphia: Lippincott William & Wilkins.

Hadler, N. (2005). Occupational musculoskeletal disorders. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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