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Investigating Muscular Aches and Pains

These aches and pains can affect one muscle, but more often than not these affect multiple muscles as everything in the body is connected and needs to function harmoniously.

Muscle pain can also involve ligaments, tendons or fascia. These are the soft tissues that connect and envelop all the muscles, joints, bones and organs.


Muscle pain is most frequently related to tension, overuse, or acute/chronic muscle injury from exercise or physically demanding work. In these situations, the pain tends to involve specific muscles and starts during or just after the activity. It is usually obvious which activity is causing the pain.

Firstly, we would need to make sure that your cause of muscle pain in not due to an underlying condition. When you visit our Physiotherapist, Osteopath, Sports Massage Therapist or Acupuncturist, through a thorough case history review and, if applicable, appropriate testing we will make sure you are in safe hands. If we feel that your symptoms require further investigation via a medical professional we will refer you to the appropriate place.

Causes

The causes of muscle pain is numerous and wide ranging. Below are just a few of the most common causes that we at Osteon have put together.

  • Injury or trauma including sprains and strains
  • Using a muscle too much, too soon, too often (poor warm up or cool down)
  • Tension or stress

 

Trigger points, though muscular is a common type of non-articular pain, its pathophysiology is only beginning to be understood due to its enormous complexity.

Muscular pain can be characterised by the presence of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs), which are defined as hyperirritable nodules located within a taut band of skeletal muscle. MTrPs may be active (spontaneously painful and symptomatic) or latent (non-spontaneously painful).

Painful MTrPs activate muscle nociceptors that, upon sustained noxious stimulation, initiate motor and sensory changes in the peripheral and central nervous systems. This process is called sensitisation.

Myofascial trigger points are the hallmark characteristics of Myofascial Pain Syndrome and feature motor, sensory, and autonomic components. Motor aspects of active and latent MTrPs may include disturbed motor function, muscle weakness as a result of motor inhibition, muscle stiffness, and restricted range of motion.

Myofascial Pain has been associated with numerous conditions including.

  • Radiculopathies
  • Joint dysfunction
  • Disc pathology
  • Tendonitis
  • Craniomandibular dysfunction
  • Migraines
  • Tension type headaches
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Computer-related disorders
  • Whiplash-associated disorders
  • Spinal dysfunction
  • Pelvic pain

 

Myofascial Trigger Points - active / latent

A myofascial trigger point is a hyperirritable point in skeletal muscle that is associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule. Painful conditions of the musculoskeletal system, including myofascial pain syndrome, constitute some of the most important chronic problems that are encountered in a clinical practice.

An active MTrP is a symptom-producing MTrP and can trigger local or referred pain or other paraesthesiae. A latent MTrP does not trigger pain without being stimulated.

MTrPs give rise to the following:

  • Pain - referred and local
  • Restricted Motion
  • Autonomic phenomena (Dizziness, vertigo, sweating)
  • If chronic, a reduction in pain threshold ( Inflammation sensibilises nociceptors)
  • Local Ischemia ( Decrease in blood supply causing increased hypertonicity)

 

MTrPs pain description
  • Patients often describe the pain as deep, dull, aching, and diffuse or as a feeling of fatigue in the affected muscles.
  • Pain often varies in intensity
  • Patients will frequently give a history of a repetitive activity or injury that may implicate a muscular overuse or trauma.

 

Sensory aspects of trigger point pain may include local tenderness, referral of pain to a distant site, and peripheral and central sensitization.

Peripheral sensitization can be described as a reduction in threshold and an increase in responsiveness of the peripheral ends of nociceptors, while central sensitization is an increase in the excitability of neurons within the central nervous system.

Signs of peripheral and central sensitization are allodynia (pain due to a stimulus that does not normally provoke pain) and hyperalgesia (an increased response to a stimulus that is normally painful).

Types of treatment that can help

All the treatments listed below can help with all types of muscle pain in their own way. To find out how we can help you can contact Osteon at any time to discuss how we can help. Or book in for a Free Assessment to discuss with your Osteon therapist a therapy of your choice.

  • Osteopathy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Sports & Remedial Massage
  • Acupuncture

 

Home care

For muscle pain from overuse or injury, rest that body part. You can apply ice for the first 24 - 72 hours of an injury to reduce pain and inflammation. After that, heat often feels more soothing. You can even use both. You can apply ice for 5 minutes then heat for 5 minutes then ice for 5 minutes straight after each other. After the last ice application you need to have between 30-60 minutes break then repeat as needed. If unsure then contact Osteon.

Gentle stretching exercises after a long rest period are also helpful.

Regular exercise can help restore proper muscle tone. Walking, cycling, and swimming are good aerobic activities to try. A member of the Osteon therapy team can teach you stretching, strengthening, and other types of exercises to help you feel better and stay pain-free. Begin slowly and increase workouts gradually. For example, if you have just taken up running then please do not increase speed or distance by more than 10% per week. As a rule do not perform aerobic activities and/or weight lifting when injured or while in pain. Do not follow the no pain no gain theory, you do gain something.....more pain.

Allow your body to recover in the right manner. This means eating and sleeping correctly. Remember, you get out what you put in.

Prevention

Prevention is the key to staying fit and healthy. Even by following the list below every so often you will have set backs. This is normal and happens to everyone at some point. If it happens to you dont worry call Osteon and we will get you back on your feet as soon as possible.

  • Warm up before exercising and cool down afterward.
  • Stretch before and after exercising.
  • Drink lots of fluids before, during, and after exercise.
  • If you work in the same position most of the day (like sitting at a computer), stretch at least every hour.

 

For more information please call us on 020 7043 6025 or click here to request a callback