How A Muscle Knot Can Cause Pain

Jun 12, 2017

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Many of us have heard of a “muscle knot” though few know what it is.

Many of us have heard of a “muscle knot” though few know what it is. No one would blame you for thinking they are knots as they tend to feel like your muscles tying into each other. While a muscle knot is often less dramatic than its name entails, the phenomenon still causes an uncomfortable amount of pain in the lower back, neck, shoulders, and shins of hundreds of thousands of Americans. If left untreated, muscle knots can grow more painful over time or may lead you to develop bad habits that can cause more severe conditions. Muscle knots can also cause leg pain, especially in the calves, and can be a result of overuse, improper footwear, or underlying medical conditions such as peripheral artery disease or deep vein thrombosis.

What Causes Knots in Your Muscles?

Muscle knots are spots of muscle and fascial tissue that are more irritable than usual, often referred to as myofascial trigger points. Pain experts categorize trigger points within two camps:

  • Latent Trigger Points: Latent trigger points are like soft bruises. They don’t cause any pain when left alone, but pressing down on the spot can cause a dull ache or tender pain.
  • Active Trigger Points: Much like chronic pain, this type of trigger point produces intense pain regardless of present pressure.

Trigger points can be found anywhere in the body that has muscles or facial tissue. The common areas are:

Neck pain is a common symptom of muscle knots, and can often be relieved with massage and stretching. There are several reasons why muscle knots can develop. For most patients, these reasons are:

  • Poor posture due to a sedentary lifestyle
  • Injuries from repetitive motions or heavy lifting
  • Direct injuries such as blunt force trauma, muscle tears, strain, or breaking
  • Unaddressed mental health concerns that cause overwhelming amounts of mental or emotional stress

How to Treat a Muscle Knot

For most people, muscle knots are simply annoying and often loosen up with some light massage, stretching, and a more active lifestyle. For a select few, a muscle knot can cause enough pain to interfere with daily activities. While muscle knots are common, they are not completely harmless. If a muscle knot is so severe that it causes intense pain, it may be tearing at micro fibers of muscle tissue. With time, this tearing can cause scarring, and the tissue loses elasticity, which is part of why the body is so flexible. The following methods are often viewed as viable for more aggressive muscle knot treatment:

  • Electrostimulation
  • Therapeutic Stretching Techniques
  • Physical Therapy
  • Therapeutic Massage
  • Pulsed Ultrasound
  • Low-Level Laser Therapy

A New Jersey pain expert can help find the pain treatment best for you. It is not uncommon for pain from muscle knots to be comorbid with other conditions. Schedule an appointment with Garden State Pain Center today to learn more about how to treat your pain.