Musculoskeletal medicine is an emerging specialty in Australia dealing with pain and dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system. It is accepted as a specialist qualification in New Zealand, but not yet in Australia. Musculoskeletal Physicians are trained and regulated by the Australasian Faculty of Musculoskeletal Medicine (AFMM).
Dr Victor Wilk is a founding member and past president of the AFMM. 15% of all general practice consultations relate to aches and pains and loss of use of the musculoskeletal system. The most common aches and pains in the body are the back, neck, shoulder, elbow, hip and knee. Although sometimes labeled as arthritis:, there are other possible causes of pain. For instance in arthritis of the hip, as well as pain arising from within the joint, there may be additional pain related to surrounding muscles cramping up. Two people may have similar looking X-rays but vastly different pain experiences. In many cases the exact source and cause of pain are unknown and are not evident using common tests. The term “musculoskeletal pain” or “dysfunction” is used to describe these conditions. The pain is real, but may not evident on x-rays and even MRI scans. It means that the problem lies somewhere in the bones, joints, nerves, muscles of the affected part of the body. Sometimes the pains are “referred from a nearby area of the body and have been misdiagnosed by a less thorough examination”.
Musculoskeletal medicine complements other existing specialties such as rheumatology, orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation medicine. Some patients are told that surgery is the only option to manage their chronic pain. One example is disc prolapse where many doctors are not aware of the benefits of specific injection techniques such as transforaminal epidural injections which have reduced the need for surgery by 50% in one recently published study. Some injections use cortisone to reduce inflammation, while in other cases cortisone is not needed. Recently there has been increasing interest in the use of “regenerative therapy” involving injections of the persons own blood (Autologous blood injections and Platelet Rich Plasma) or glucose (prolotherapy) to stimulate tissue repair.
Musculoskeletal Physicians specialise in these injection techniques and also Radiofrequency Neurotomy for the management of chronic lower back, neck pain and associated headache. More information can be found on these various injection techniques under each section on this website.
The following website provides details on Musculoskeletal physicians elsewhere in Australia: Australian Association of Musculoskeletal Medicine (AAMM)
Information on the following conditions and treatments may be found by searching under Injection therapies and X-ray guided injections or by clicking on the links below.
Facet joint injections
Pentosan polysulfate sodium (PPS) injection therapy for knee osteoarthritis
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections
Facet Joint Radiofrequency Neurotomy
Sacro-iliac joint injections
Trigger point therapy