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Recognizing the Symptoms and Cause of Chronic Muscle Pain, and finding Effective and Lasting Relief.
The initial stages of muscle tightness are not easily noticeable. Muscle tightening is initiated when the muscle experiences any type of trauma, e.g. injury, muscle overuse or even stress. If not checked this muscle tightness and discomfort will gradually increase. Unfortunately these sensations don't generally get our attention, until they become really intense and turn into pain. Now you see the relationship between muscle tightness and Pain. The pain starts as intermittent episodes, but as the muscle accumulates tightness the pain becomes chronic. These muscle tension and pain symptoms are similar in different parts of the body where muscle and other soft tissue undergo some sort of trauma, e.g. neck, shoulders (front and back), upper and lower back and to a lesser degree, the upper and lower arms and legs.
Possible Causes of tightness and pain
At rest muscles should be relaxed - long and soft with form This state is called normal 'resting tone'. This means the muscle has just enough muscle tension to hold our bodies and joints together. Excessive tightness at rest could be the beginning of the muscle tension and pain process. And as mentioned above, this could have been initiated by some sort of trauma. Trauma is anything that causes intense tension or pain in the muscle, like an injury, sudden muscular exertion, performing a task at an awkward angle, surgery and even bad posture, anxiety and stress. These could be starting points or could aggravate already existing muscle tension.
In an ideal state muscle tone should only tense and shorten when flexed. A muscle that is experiencing any form of trauma will tighten, shorten and thicken the affected muscle tissue even at rest. The more you use the affected muscle group the higher the muscle tightness goes.
Based on your stress level, posture and activity this muscle tightness could remain for a long time with only slight fluctuations, but if aggravated, the tension in the muscle will increase, taking the muscle into a pain mode. Pain itself causes further trauma and adds to the the existing muscle tightness level. As the pain episodes become more frequent the muscle tightness becomes saturated and ....guess what....you now have chronic pain.
At this stage you might also notice that the pain radiates and spreads over a larger area. Actually the tight muscles impinges on nerves and blood vessels passing through and between them, causing pain and diminished blood supply to the neighboring muscle groups causing further trauma. If the muscle tone in these areas is not restored, this muscle tightness and chronic pain can spread over a large area diminishing the health of the muscle tissue and seriously limiting your range of motion. You will recognize these symptoms in neck and shoulder and lower back problems which are most prevalent in our current day society.
Locating Tight and Painful Muscles
You can probably see now that the muscle pain process starts long before you actually start feeling it. You have also seen that the precursors to pain is muscle tightness and then discomfort. With this knowledge you can now more easily identify muscle groups in your body that are experiencing early stages of trauma, even before you start experiencing chronic pain. Take note of all the different sensations in your body when you are sitting at your computer, lying down, walking, working out etc. You will feel tightness of different degrees in different parts of your body, and in some cases, discomfort, depending on your activity. Discomfort is the stage of tightness just before pain.
Your focus should be on muscle groups experiencing pain and or discomfort first. Each affected muscle has at least one point on it that becomes highly sensitized and painful. These are called Trigger Points. Your first step in getting some relief from muscle tightness is to gently knead the painful muscle until you find the trigger point. Use the same procedure to find trigger points in each affected muscle.
Treatment and your participation in the healing and restoration process
If you have access to a trigger point therapist, based on your symptoms he/she will find and treat your trigger points effectively and based on your response to treatment, an appropriate treatment program
In the meantime you can take the edge off your discomfort by using some self-treatment. Use the method described above to locate the pain spots. The more advanced your condition is, the more sever the pain will be. Be sure you find the most intense spot. This will indicate that you are at its center and this is the Trigger Point. Once found, stay on the point with a thumb or finger with very light pressure. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Be sure that you are in a comfortable position and your hand and fingers are relaxed. Remember to check that you are dead center of the Trigger Point and never cause further pain by using excessive pressure. Also remember to be very patient. Initially, especially if the pain is severe, you will need to repeat the process several times before you feel any pain reduction.
Focused stretches can also speed the healing process. For more on this subject go to the stretches section.
should get you pain free and your tissue tone restored, along with all the other benefits. Fore a detailed description of treatment go to stretches section
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