Muscular Aches and Pains
Muscular strains, tears, pain, or injuries can range widely in severity and occur due to a variety of reasons. Some people experience muscular aches and pains as a symptom of an underlying joint problem.
Muscular tears or injury are a common cause of sports injuries, especially in the lower legs.
When muscles become fatigued or tired, have excess load placed onto them, or are asked to lengthen further than usual, this can cause excess stress and injury to the muscle.
Muscles can also strain when doing simple tasks such as lifting things around the house, such as furniture, shopping, or your children.
People also often experience muscular pain or ache in the upper back and shoulders, due to long periods sitting or overuse at work.
The tendon is the tough part of muscle that connects the muscle belly to bones. They are strong and able to withstand a lot of tensile force. However, these tendons can become injured either through acute injury or consistent repetitive strain. This can then lead to pain caused by a tendinopathy. Common examples of tendinopathies are golfers/tennis elbow, or patellar tendon tendinopathy.
Causes and symptoms of muscle pain and tendinopathies can include: pain that can be incredibly sharp during acute injury, or a low grade dull ache with more consistent pain, redness or heat, swelling, bruising can occur with more serious muscular tear, tenderness on touch or stretching of the muscle, and local pain in the tendon or muscle belly, depending on which area is affected.
Treatment: Your osteopath will provide treatment for muscle aches and tendinopathies, using soft tissue and sports massage, combined with osteopathic techniques.
As mentioned above, it is important to find out which muscle or muscle groups are injured, as well as whether there is involvement of the ligaments as well. It is then important to determine whether it is the muscle belly, or the muscle tendon that is affected, as management of each is slightly different.
Hands on treatment working through the soft tissues will be carried out, using a variety of techniques utilising different amounts of pressure, rhythm, and speed depending on each presentation. The purpose of this is to increase blood flow to the muscle, stretch or elongate the muscle (safely), and promote tissue healing.
Management is case dependant on the injury. It will usually involve graded exercise rehabilitation, with the purpose of slowly increasing the load a muscle injury is able to handle, while maintaining or increasing the flexibility. Due to their rich blood supply, muscular injuries usually heal faster than other types of injuries, however this is not always the case with tendinopathies. This will be discussed with you at your consultation.
Muscle spasms and pains are the spontaneous contractions within muscle tissue - often the body's method of protecting damaged structures, or as a means to protect itself from injury. Muscle spasms in the back can be caused by a muscle strain, a sprained muscle, or an underlying condition.
Causes of Muscular Spasms Muscular spasm may caused by either direct damage to muscle (e.g. pulling a hamstring whilst running) or as a protective contracture, which is often nature’s way of creating a splint to protect an underlying fault.
• Spasms may affect many different types of muscles in the body, leading to many different symptoms and presentations.
• Spasms of skeletal muscles are most common and are commonly treated by osteopaths. They are often due to dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities. The spasm may occur abruptly, can be painful, and is usually short-lived. It may be relieved by gently stretching the muscle.
• If muscle spasms are especially painful, if they do not resolve or if they reoccur, medical care should be accessed to look for possible underlying causes.
Treatment: In treating back muscle spasms, it is very important to diagnose the underlying problem and the treatment should be sensibly directed at this underlying cause. Unless the underlying problem is evaluated, discovered, and treated, the back muscle spasms will tend to reoccur. The osteopath will discuss your condition, explain the problem including the treatment and plan to help improve and resolve it.
Exercises and advice on lifestyle and posture are often given when indicated.
Your GP may be able to prescribe medication to relieve muscle spasm.