Posts tagged muscle pain
What Are The Most Effective Treatments For Tension Headaches?

Tension-type headaches are headaches related to muscle trigger points or muscle tenderness in the head and neck and are the most common type of headache in adults. In our Boulder physical therapy practice, we utilize hands-on techniques addressing muscles and joints of the upper cervical region for headaches. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis (Jiang et al, Medicine 2019) concluded that the combination of upper cervical spinal manipulation and soft-tissue treatment techniques were more effective for short-term pain reduction than soft tissue work alone.

It is important to note that postural impairments and upper cervical muscle atrophy have also been correlated with headache and the effect of exercise to change these contributing factors was not addressed in this study.

Please contact the headache experts at Mend to determine what combination of spinal manipulation, soft tissue mobilization and exercise is right to address your specific headache complaint.

What Is The Best Exercise For Painful Muscles?

Muscles can be a significant source of pain in our bodies. Chronic muscular pain may be found locally over the muscle or can be felt in an area distant from the muscle known as referred pain. Multiple Physical Therapy interventions including dry needling, foam rolling, and soft tissue mobilizations can be utilized in the short term to reduce these symptoms. Conversely, long term relief of muscular pain requires examination of the muscle to determine why it remains painful.

Muscle imbalances are a common reason behind these chronic symptoms. Muscles worked above and beyond their normal function will become painful over time. A common example in the hip is the TFL muscle in the presence of glut weakness. Short term solutions can target the TFL but long term relief is found by strengthening the glut muscles allowing them to perform their appropriate function at the hip in turn relieving forces across the TFL. A second muscle imbalance is found when the painful muscle is not strong enough to withstand the forces applied during activity. The long term strategy with this type of imbalance is to strengthen the muscle of interest. A recent research study examined the impact of strengthening this type of chronic muscle pain.

Anderson and colleagues examined the neck muscle performance of patients with neck pain compared to their pain free peers (Bio Med Res Int. 2014). Patients with painful neck muscles were randomized to either 10 weeks of high intensity neck strength training, general fitness training, or a control group. As expected, significant weakness was found in the patient’s painful muscles at baseline compared to their asymptomatic peers. Authors reported improved strength capacity of these painful muscles following the focused strength training program. Improved functional tolerance of the painful muscles allows these muscles to be more resilient to the forces applied to them each day.

Click Here to schedule an appointment with the experts at MEND to address your muscular pain

IT band rolling NOT shown to improve flexibility

In a previous blog we wrote about why you should not spend your valuable exercise time rolling your iliiotibial (IT) band.  In short, this strong fibrous band will not stretch or move in response to any painful exercise with a foam roller or soft tissue tool of your choice.  This is a classic example of the juice not being worth the squeeze.  Conversely, rolling the surrounding muscles often reduces feeling of tightness and improves mobility across the lateral thigh.  A recent research article examined the impact of foam rolling either a muscle or the IT band on hip mobility.

Hall and colleagues in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy randomized 27 participants to perform 3 separate foam rolling sessions: over the gluteal muscles, over the IT band, and a control session (2018).  Authors measured hip flexibility both before and after each  of 3 rolling sessions in each participant.  Consistent with our prior research, no changes in hip mobility were seen after participants rolled their IT bands, but mobility improved after rolling the muscles of the hip.  

Patients are encouraged to roll muscle tissue and not the IT band to optimize their mobility workouts.  

Dry Needling Improves Vertical Jump Performance

Photo Credit: IJSPT

Dry needling is a commonly utilized Physical Therapy intervention which can effectively reduce pain, improve pain, and improved muscle performance.  Physical Therapists aim to treat trigger points or knots in the muscles thought to either cause pain or limit mobility.  In the majority of cases, dry needling leads to an immediate improvement in range of motion, pain, and performance.

A recent article examined calf dry needling effect on functional movements including the vertical jump. Bandy and colleagues examined 35 healthy adults and tested their vertical jumps before and after a dynamic vertical jump.  As expected the group receiving dry needling significantly improved their vertical jump after the dry needling treatment over the placebo group.  This study adds to the literature supporting the use of dry needling for improvement quality of movement and performance.

To learn more on how dry needling can help decrease your symptoms and improve your performance contact your local Physical Therapy clinic.


Trigger Point Dry Needling for Muscle Pain
trigger points-dry needling-treatment-muscle-pain

Dry needling performed by Physical Therapists has grown in popularity over the past 10 years among researchers, clinicians, and patients.  Dry needling uses a solid monofilament needle designed to disrupt the the taut band of muscle tissue causing a patient's pain.  This intervention uses a mechanical stimulus to create a neurological, chemical, and circulatory response leading to decreased pain, improved range of motion and function.  Previous research has shown dry needling is more effective than placebo needling for reducing pain, but there is limited data on the long term effectiveness of this Physical Therapy treatment.  

A recent literature review was published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy examining the effectiveness of trigger point dry needling, performed by physical therapists, on pain and function (Gattie et al. 2017).  The authors found moderate quality evidence supporting the use of dry needling for the short term treat of pain and pain tolerance.  Smaller effect sizes were noted for improving patient function after dry needling treatments.  These results were held up up to 12 weeks, the length of the study, but long term research is needed to determine how dry needling impacts patient symptoms at long term follow up.  Dry needling is best utilized as part of a physical therapy treatment plan including manual therapy and exercise.  This treatment allows for a quick reduction in pain and a transition to more active physical therapy interventions.


Dry Needling for Muscle Pain

Dry Needling performed by licensed Physical Therapists is gaining momentum in clinics and research trials across the country.  This intervention can be an excellent treatment for patients suffering from pain and trigger points within their muscles.  Trigger points are hyper irritable bands of tissue contributing to pain, loss of flexibility, and impaired strength in patients.  The dry needling technique leads to beneficial physiological changes in pain, circulation, nervous system function, and muscle performance.  When combined with other proven Physical Therapy interventions such as manual therapy and exercise, dry needling offers patients lasting relief of their symptoms.  

A recent review of available research trials (randomized controlled trials) on the effectiveness of dry needling was performed to determine the treatment's effectiveness on trigger points in multiple body areas (Boyles et al. JMMT. 2016).  19 research trials were investigated by the authors including over 1000 patients.  Authors noted the available high quality evidence supports the utilization of dry needling for multiple muscle groups with improvements noted in pain, range of motion, and quality of life.    These improvements were noted in all regions of the body including the head, trunk and extremities.  

Patients are encouraged to discuss the appropriateness of dry needling for their pain and symptoms with their Physical Therapist.