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What is a muscle knot, why does it happen and what you can do to relieve it

Updated: Jul 3, 2019


Muscles knots are hard, sensitive areas of muscles that tighten and contract even when the muscle is at rest. These tense muscle fibres can cause pain in other parts of the body when touched. They’re also known as trigger points.

Muscle knots can be caused by:

  • a sedentary lifestyle,overusing or injuring your muscles,poor posture

  • Dehydration, unhealthy eating habits, and stress and anxiety may also contribute to muscle knots.

Muscle knots can occur anywhere in the body, but they’re usually found in your back, shoulders, and neck. They often show up in your gluteal muscles, too.

Muscles knots can cause aching sensations and pain in your muscles and joints. When you touch a muscle knot, it may feel swollen, tense, or bumpy. It could also feel tight and contracted, even when you’re trying to relax, and they’re often sensitive to the touch. The affected area may even become inflamed or swollen.

Muscle knots can cause symptoms in areas outside of the muscles, including:

headaches,toothaches,earaches

You may also experience stress, anxiety, and depression, and have difficulty sleeping.

Treatment

Treating muscle knots can take time. To get rid of the knots, you’ll need to break up the knotted tissue and calm inflamed nerves. Following are some things you can do to help break up the knots and find relief.

Rest

Allow your body to rest if you have muscle knots. Take a break from any activities that are causing the knots, or that increase your pain or discomfort. Dedicate as much time as possible to relaxation. This may include sleeping longer than usual or lying in a comfortable position using pillows to support your body.

Stretch

Gentle stretching that elongates your muscles can help you to release tension in your body. Be gentle with yourself while stretching. Don’t force yourself into any positions or do anything that causes pain.

For best results, hold stretches for at least 30 seconds, and release the stretch slowly to reduce your risk for injury

Exercise

Aerobic exercise may help to relieve muscle knots. If the knots are in your shoulders or neck, do jumping jacks, swimming, and any other arm movements that work the muscles in your shoulders and neck. This stretches the muscles and increases their blood supply. Increased blood supply helps filters out toxins.



Massage therapy

You can use massage to treat muscle knots. Massage therapy increases circulation and improves blood flow. That can improve muscle function and help loosen up your muscles. This helps to relieve pain and stiffness.

Keep in mind that one session isn’t usually enough to heal you completely. You’ll likely need to have several frequent sessions. Once you see improvements you can space out your sessions.



When to seek help

Untreated muscle knots can cause chronic pain and lead to other health issues. See your health care provider if you’ve taken measures to relieve your muscle pain, but it persists. You should also call your doctor if pain becomes severe and is interfering with your daily life and well-being.

It’s possible that what seems like a muscle knot could be something else, such as a swollen lymph node. Usually there will be other symptoms that accompany a swollen lymph node, such as a cold, cough, or infection.

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