Muscle pain has a variety of causes. Stress, tension, overuse, and injuries are the primary causes of short or long term muscle pain. The pain is typically localized, affecting a specific muscle group. For example, the muscles of the thigh may become inflamed, causing pain and reduced mobility if someone pushes themselves too hard at the gym. Sports and exercise are often the cause of sudden trauma or injuries due to overuse. However, high impact activities are not the only culprits. Even sitting still can cause debilitating back and neck pain if you have poor posture. There are other causes of muscle pain that do not involve injury or overuse. For example, systemic muscle pain, or pain throughout the body, is more likely to be the result of an illness, infection, or a side effect of certain medications.
Regardless of the method of injury, inflammation causes the muscle pain and stiffness of the muscle tissues. This inflammation is an important part of the healing process. However, left untreated chronic inflammation can lead to a whole host of other health issues. In many cases, the cause of trauma is easy to identify, such as with a sports injury or fall. However, when considering chiropractic care for muscle pain it is important to identify any possible underlying causes.
How Does Spinal Misalignment Contribute to Muscle Pain?
The primary cause of muscle pain, or at least a major contributing factor, is usually a misalignment in the spine. Even minor deviations in the spine can result in major discomfort elsewhere in the body. But why?
The bones are the scaffolding that supports the body and its muscles, without which we would be unable to move. Proper alignment of these bones, especially the spine, is what allows those muscles to move effectively and efficiently. Ideally, if you divide the body in half down the middle, the right and left sides of the skeleton and musculature are mirror images of each other, with everything lining up perfectly. When the spine is out of alignment, the corresponding muscle groups are either used more or less to compensate for this deviation. When muscles are engaged unequally it pulls the spine out of alignment, compounding the issue. Divided in half, a body with spinal misalignments will show differences in hip and shoulder height from the right to the left side as well as one hip or shoulder being set more forward than the other.
Connective tissues supporting the affected bones and muscles will shorten or put under additional strain to try to maintain normal motion of the body. This added stress and tension irritates these tissues, causing localized inflammation, resulting in pain and muscle stiffness. Even minor misalignments can have a cascading effect that contributes to intense pain and increases your risk of injury. Seeking chiropractic treatment for muscle pain can help to restore proper alignment and reduce or eliminate your pain.
How Do I Know If My Spine is Out of Alignment?
Most people have a spinal misalignment to some degree or another. These misalignments can be present from birth and only worsen with age if not corrected. These misalignments can result in the following complaints:
- Breaks or degradation of bones, especially in the spine
- Decreased range of motion
- Discomfort when sitting, standing, and laying down
- Frequent and persistent headaches
- Frequent illness
- Joint stiffness
- Loss of mobility
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Pain in the neck, lower back, hips, or knees; can be temporary or chronic
- Permanent deformities of joints and bones
- Respiratory issues
- Slouched or hunched posture
- Unequal wear on the soles of your shoes
If you have any of these symptoms, you may have a misalignment in your spine and should consult with a licensed physician to determine if chiropractic treatment for your muscle pain would be beneficial.
How Can a Chiropractor Help with Muscle Pain?
Chiropractic medicine is a system of integrative regenerative medicine that focuses on the diagnosis of neuromuscular ailments and treating these complaints through the manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine. By adjusting the spine and restoring proper alignment to the body, the affected muscles can begin healing. However, chiropractic treatment for muscle pain does not focus only on correcting the alignment of your bones.
Here at Freedom Health Centers, we take a whole-patient approach. We recognize that factors diet, exercise, as well as your family and medical history all play a part in muscle pain. Through examining these factors your chiropractor can determine what may be contributing to your pain and recommend changes in your lifestyle to correct for these things.
Other Therapy Options
A chiropractor may also prescribe other methods of pain management and care to aid you in your recovery process. Some of these therapies may include:
- Cold Therapy – also called cryotherapy, involves the use of ice packs or ice baths to reduce swelling and inflammation in the injured muscles.
- Heat Therapy – this therapy involves the application of heat to improve blood flow and oxygenation of the affected muscles. Increased blood flow to the injured area, especially when paired with physical therapy, can help to improve range of motion, reduce stiffness, and speed the healing process.
- Electrical Stimulation – this therapy involves sending electrical impulses through specific muscle groups to facilitate the transference of medications without injections (Iontophoresis) or to reduce pain (TENS, H-Wave). These therapies are typically for muscle groups that are closer to the skin.
- Ultrasound Therapy – this therapy uses ultrasound waves to deliver heat and energy to deep tissues to reduce pain and to speed the healing process. A process called Phonophoresis pairs ultrasound waves with topical medications to deliver pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medications to deliver these compounds deep within the muscle without injection.
- Kinesio Taping – the practice of strategically placing strips of tape along muscle groups to relieve pressure points and reduce pain.
- Massage – Myofascial release and trigger point therapy are two types of massage therapy aimed specifically at relieving pressure points and reducing stress and strain on the affected muscles and connective tissues.
- Physical Therapy – maintaining proper alignment of the spine may require stretches and exercises to restore range of motion and strength to supporting muscle groups.
Using Chiropractic Care for Muscle Pain
Depending on your complaint and the underlying cause of your pain, some of these methods may be more appropriate than others and can be discussed with your chiropractor. The best thing you can do for your pain is to consult with a chiropractor. Our staff is standing by to discuss your pain and find an option that meets your needs. No one should have to live in constant pain. Take your life back today.