Muscle knots: Causes and treatment

Muscle aches after an intense workout are common. Common problem areas are the shoulders, neck, and upper back. Pain in these areas can make it difficult to move your muscles, often putting an end to your workout. This pain or soreness can last for weeks or even months. This may be the result of muscle knots.

Muscle knots are points within a muscle where contracted fibers are unable to release and instead remain tightened. They can be described as irritable localized spots of tenderness in muscle tissue.

The medical term for muscle knots is myofascial trigger points (MTPS). Muscle knots can be the size of a pinhead to the size of a thumb.

Muscle knots can cause pain in two ways. The first is through latent trigger points, which are knots that only hurt when pressure is put upon them. The second way is through active trigger points, which are knots that actively producing pain along your neural pathways, sending pain to other parts of the body.

How do muscle knots form?
Muscle knots are caused by injury (physical stress), toxic exposure (chemical stress), nutritional deficiency, or even emotional stressors. Any of these causes can lead to the development of contracted taut bands of muscle tissue. Occasionally, they can be felt thought through the skin and may be painless, but eventually, they will begin to shorten and alter your movement patterns.

The muscles in your body contain hundreds of muscle fibers. They work by shortening actin and myosin filaments within them, essentially causing a contraction of the muscle. When you squeeze your muscles, you effectively push most of the blood away from the muscle area. While your body attempts to make up for this by increasing blood pressure and heart rate, this initial lack of localized blood in the muscle fibers results in a reduction of oxygen and nutrients, which the blood supplies.

Taut muscle bands begin to run low on energy, or ATP (adenosine triphosphate). When there is a lack of ATP available for muscle cells to use, this can manifest as fatigue or pain. Also, when muscles are in a constant state of contraction and blood flow to the area has stopped, they produce excess metabolic waste, sending pain signals to the brain.

Personally tailored exercises offer relief for patients with lower back pain

Impaired movement control may result in chronic lower back pain. A new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows that the combination of manual therapy and exercise is an excellent way to combat movement control impairment in the lower back. This combination reduced the disability experienced by patients and significantly improved their functional ability. A personally tailored exercise programme was more beneficial for patients than a generic one, and the treatment results also persisted at a 12-month follow-up.

Movement control impairment is a common cause of lower back pain

Only 15% of patients suffering from lower back pain get a specific diagnosis, meaning that up to 85% of patients have to settle for a non-specific one.. Many international care guidelines call for further research addressing the different subgroups of patients with lower back pain.

Cranio-Sacral Therapie

Exercise therapy alone seems to be effective for treating patients with neck pain

The study shows that providing forms of manual treatment along with exercise therapy doesn’t seem to improve treatment outcomes. Exercise therapy alone appears to yield the same benefits for patients as manual treatment combines with exercise therapy.

Specialized physiotherapy provides many benefits for patients with Parkinson’s disease

There is increasing evidence that patients with Parkinson’s disease benefit from allied health interventions, such as physiotherapy or occupational therapy. Parkinson-specific expertise is needed for optimal treatment of people with Parkinson’s disease. Professionals who have been trained as part of the Dutch national ParkinsonNet have this expertise. Previous scientific research showed that the ParkinsonNet approach results in better care at lower costs. However, little was known about the added value of this approach in the long-term, and in day-to-day practice. Therefore, the healthcare insurer CZ initiated an analysis of their medical claims database including 4,381 patients who had data available for a period of 3 years.

This results show that patients who had been treated by a specialized physiotherapist sustained significantly fewer complications such as bone fractures, and were also less likely to be admitted to a hospital. There was also a tendency towards a lower mortality rate among those who had received the specialized treatment. The costs of this specialized physiotherapy were also significantly lower. On average, patients claimed almost € 400 less per year for specialized treatment than for regular treatment, and the total annual healthcare costs (including the medical specialist care) were on average € 530 lower per patient, because hospital admissions were avoided. In the Netherlands, this represents an estimated annual cost saving of over € 11 million.