What is musculoskeletal health?
Funnily enough, when you try to define health, it’s a more elusive definition that you might think. We know what’s NOT healthy.
Pain in the muscles or joints.
Torn ligaments, muscles. or cartilage.
Osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Bulging spinal discs.
Inability to get up and down from the toilet easily.
Difficulty getting up and down from the floor.
Inability to turn your neck far enough to look behind you.
Obviously this is the sort of list that can go on forever. But what is actual musculoskeletal health? Often when people try to answer this question, they list things like “lack of pain”, or “no injuries”. That’s not a very high bar, is it?
We don’t always think about what a true state of health or thriving is, whether for our musculoskeletal system or for our bodies as a whole. I’m not sure that I have a great definition, either. I would say that there’s something about “thriving”, but that’s pretty vague.
What I do know is this. In my 16 years as a physical therapist we (the doctors, insurance companies, and even the patients) focus on the state of injury or disease. Fix the broken, hurting part. That’s very important, and something that I want to continue to work on. On the other hand, it’s not enough. I can tell you that not enough people get rid of their pain. Not enough people are able to do the things they want to do. Too many people end up with more injuries down the road, either in the same place or another place. That’s not what I want for people.
I wonder what it takes to figure out what musculoskeletal health is, and if you pursue that do the outcomes get better?