About Musculoskeletal Conditions

Musculoskeletal Disorders are very common with pain and disability affecting the spine, pelvic and shoulder girdles, and the upper and lower limbs. Pain and Disability can have complex causes and affect quality of life. The good news is that there are ways of preventing or treating musculoskeletal conditions.

Sports and Musculoskeletal injuries:

Many soft tissue injuries (sprains, strains and tears) get better in a few weeks if you follow some simple steps. You should see a GP, or physiotherapist, if:

  • you have an injury that worries you
  • you’re not getting better within a couple of days
  • you have a lot of pain, swelling, or disability
  • you are slow to make progress, with pain and disability continuing beyond six weeks, or if your problem seems serious your GP may refer you to a specialist such as a Musculoskeletal Physician.

Exercise as Medicine:

More and more, we are discovering the preventive and treatment benefits of an active lifestyle.

Keeping active, and avoiding excessive weight gain, helps to prevent and delay the need for joint replacement, prevent diabetes, recover from injury, improve the immune system’s fight against infection and prevent the depression that comes with persisting pain.

We quickly lose muscle if we become inactive. This can slow recovery. Gaining weight can also put more strain on your injury.

You may not be able to do your previous activities but there are always exercises you can do to stay fit and strong while you recover. Talk to your physiotherapist or musculoskeletal doctor about what you can do safely. Often, selected exercises (such as water-based ones) and guidance can cure (or help you manage) persisting painful areas such as the lower back

For more information, we recommend the following pages:

HealthInfo (look up Bones and Joints and Living with an Injury)
Arthritis Foundation
Arthitis New Zealand

Cost of Treatment

The charges for Musculoskeletal Medicine assessment and treatment vary according to the service provided and the qualifications of the doctor. They also vary according to the subsidies available through the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) for an injury-related condition or through your Health Insurance Plan. Your General Practitioner will usually be able to advise you on costs but you are also entitled to information about charges before attending your first appointment. Please ask.

Publicly Funded Clinics:

In a publicly funded outpatient clinic, you would expect to get all your musculoskeletal health care for free. Access to these clinics is through your General Practitioner who will know what is available in your area and what criteria needs to be met for you to access the service. At this time, there is no publicly funded access to a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physician clinic except in the:

  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • Mid Central District Health Board

ACC and Health Insurance Funding:

ACC covers treatment for conditions as a result of personal injury by accident. In the case of specialist care, this will cover most of the treatment cost, but approval will be required for higher cost investigations such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or treatments involving specialist pain injections in a theatre or under radiology guidance.

Health Insurance Cover – the cost of this will depend on the insurer’s schedule. In many cases, this will cover a specialist fee but only a portion of the GP with Special Interest fee.