Referred muscle pain is a type of pain that is felt in one part of the body. However, it is caused by pain that is located in another part of the body. When suffering from this type of pain, pressing on sensitive points in the muscles, known as trigger points, can lead to pain in the muscle and other parts of the body, which seem unrelated to the affected area. It is a syndrome that typically happens after a muscle has been contracted for a long time repetitively. Such a contraction can occur due to repetitive motions during certain sports or certain jobs. It can also be caused by stress-related muscle tension.
Although muscle tension pain is something that almost everyone has experienced at least once in their life, referred pain seems to lead to a pain that persists and worsens. Several treatment options are available for referred muscle pain, such as trigger point injections or physical therapy. Some relaxation techniques or pain medications can be helpful as well.
What Are the Symptoms of Referred Muscle Pain?
Some symptoms of referred muscle pain include:
- Deep and aching pain in a muscle;
- A tender knows within a muscle;
- A pain that remains or worsens;
- Issues sleeping due to the pain.
If you experience muscle pain that doesn‘t go away, you must visit a doctor and have the cause evaluated. Although muscle pain can normally occur from time to time to everyone, it is important to have the cause evaluated once you notice that the muscle pain doesn‘t go away despite resting, massages, and other self-care measures.
What Causes Referred Muscle Pain?
There are sensitive areas within the muscle fibers, which can develop due to injuries or overuse. Such sensitive areas are known as trigger points. When a trigger point in a muscle is damaged due to an injury or overuse, it can lead to various symptoms, including:
- Muscle strain;
- Pain throughout the muscle;
- Pain elsewhere in the body.
Pain that develops far away from where the affected trigger point is located can sometimes make it difficult to treat the cause, as treating the area that hurts but not treating the trigger point will not make the pain go away.
Are There Any Risk Factors for Muscle Pain?
Muscle pain is caused by stimulation, such as muscle tightness, which affects the trigger points in the muscles and can lead to referred pain. Some risk factors include:
- The risk of suffering from such pain is, for example, an acute muscle injury or stress that is being put on the muscle continuously. This can lead to the development of a trigger point and, with time, to referred pain.
- Having poor posture and making repetitive motions can increase the risk of setting off such trigger points.
- Stress and anxiety are also likely to increase the risk of muscle pain and referred pain, as per several studies.
- Being anxious and in stress leads to people clenching the muscles ore, which leads to a set-off of trigger points.
Our experienced health professionals will determine what is causing your muscle pain and what preventive measures and treatments are available to effectively improve your symptoms.
Can Muscle Pain Lead To Complications?
Some complications that can occur due to referred muscle pain include issues with sleep. When you are in pain, it might be very difficult for some to find a sleeping position they are comfortable with. Sometimes, when moving at night, a trigger point can be pressed on and wake up due to the pain.
Some researchers believe that fibromyalgia can be caused by suffering from such pain. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that leads to pain experienced in many regions of the body. The brain of those who have fibromyalgia is more sensitive to pain than in healthy individuals. Some experts believe that the process of being too sensitive to certain stimulations can be triggered by suffering from muscle pain.
How Is Referred Muscle Pain Diagnosed?
When you first visit your doctor due to pain, your doctor will first try and apply pressure to the painful area and feel any tense areas. Muscle pain can have many possible causes, which is why you might also need to do certain tests to rule out certain causes of muscle pain.
Treating referred pain is very important because you will not be able to get rid of the pain if the area affected isn‘t treated, but rather only the area that hurts. Certain home remedies can help provide you with pain relief while treating your referred pain. For example, taking a bath with Epsom salt is believed to help release muscle tension. It is also recommended to use a warm compress to help provide relief from muscle cramping and muscle tension. It is also important to rest and not strain the area of the body that is in pain, as this can worsen the symptoms.
Referred pain can also occur in other conditions, such as in cases of a heart attack. A heart attack is a condition that often leads to referred pain, which can be felt in the shoulders, teeth, or jaw. Such pain occurs as a reaction of the body to the blockage in the heart valves, which leads to a heart attack.
Amputees are also likely to experience referred pain and feel the pain in the body part no longer there or near that body part. For example, if a foot is amputated, patients might feel pain in their upper thigh from a foot that has been amputated.
Kehr’s sign refers to pain in the shoulder blade after an injury or rupture to the spleen. Brain freeze is another example of referred pain, which occurs when we eat something cold. The pain is experienced in the back of the head or the brain, but pain stimulation occurs in the mouth and the throat.
If you have ongoing referred muscle pain, book an in-person appointment with our physical therapy doctor at TRI Physical Therapy. Our top-of-the-line facility offers the latest treatment approach for all musculoskeletal pain types. Take your first step to a healthier life by reaching out to our office conveniently located in Brooklyn, NY.