“it’s not my joints, it’s just muscular”
Just like “It’s old age”, we often hear our patients attributing aches and pains to something that’s “just muscular”.
By this, they often mean that it’s a dull or aching pain which comes and goes, or it’s aggravated when the poke the muscles in the painful area (or sometimes it’s because it’s been “diagnosed” as muscular by a GP or other health professional who doesn’t specialise in joint and muscle problems).
However, none of these signs are enough to determine if the pain is caused by a muscle. Dull or aching pain is just as commonly associated with joint problems, and pain resulting from almost any nerve, muscle or joint can be intermittent. And just because a muscle is sore to touch, it doesn’t mean that the muscle itself is the cause. Many times, pain referred to an area by nerves can make that area more tender and sensitive as well. For example, in sciatica, the sciatic nerve becomes irritated near the spine and refers pain to the leg. And if you press on the muscles in the painful area it can make it worse, but this is not because it’s “just muscular”. So many times what feels “just muscular” may in fact be a joint or nerve.
But even if the pain is coming from a muscle, what caused the muscle to become painful?
Often it’s because the muscle is tense or tight, which can lead to soreness. But it’s important to realise that muscles can’t get this way by themselves – they need to be told to tense up by the nerves. Without nerves, muscles would just stay relaxed and floppy (think of a piece of steak). They only do anything when the nerve which controls them tells them to. Muscles which are overworked or have become tight can only get that way if the nerve has told them to fire too much.
There are many reasons for this, but it often comes down to an accumulation of various stresses on the nervous system. One common cause is a lack of healthy movement in the spine itself, which causes irritation to the nearby nerves. This is why many patient who receive chiropractic care see improvement in other aches and pains (often which they thought they just had to “put up with”). Just because it feels “muscular” that doesn’t mean only the muscles need help.
As always, we offer Free Spine Checks at both Sevenoaks and Beckenham clinics.
So if you are unsure whether we can help with your problem, just give us a call to arrange a no-obligation visit with one of out Doctors of Chiropractic.