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For a few different reasons, musculoskeletal conditions are a major concern for many Americans. These ailments — which can impact one’s muscles, bones, and joints — can be caused by a variety of factors including overuse, exertion, or exposure to excess force. Examples of these ailments can include tendinitis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome, among others.

The reality is that one out of every seven Americans reports dealing with a musculoskeletal condition. And with the hundreds of thousands of people affected, these conditions cost the United States approximately $254 billion each and every year. Considering that more than 7 million Americans actually require hospitalization due to orthopedic conditions and more than 63% of all injuries in the U.S. involve the musculoskeletal system, we need to do everything we can to avoid unnecessary injuries and overall strain.

Knee pain is the number one reason Americans seek out orthopedic treatment, with back pain as the number two reason. If you know these areas are of particular concern for you, it’s essential to take steps to protect them. Wearing a brace and refraining from certain activities (whether it be running on hard concrete or lifting heavy objects) can certainly help. Stretching and regular exercise can play an important role, too. Although some may be inclined to believe that not partaking in strenuous physical activity is the best route to take, the reality is that this can actually make your body more prone to injury. Instead, aim to exercise — safely and at your own comfort level — for 30 minutes per day to reduce your risk of bone and joint injury. Some people find that swimming can be much more gentle on the body while still providing an excellent workout. For more information about the best physical activities to promote bone and joint health, ask your personal physician.

There may be times when your efforts aren’t enough to prevent a health concern. If you do sustain a musculoskeletal injury, you may be able to seek immediate treatment at your local walk-in clinic. While conditions that require ongoing treatment may be best treated by your doctor, pain in your back, knee, wrist, or other key areas can be assessed and treated by the caring and knowledgeable staff members at your local urgent care center.