A man foam rolling the hamstrings.

What Is Involved With Muscle Pain?

Muscle pain is extremely prominent in today’s society.  However, there are various terms to describe issues with the muscular system.  Common examples include myofascial pain syndrome, trigger points, hypertonicity, and myositis.

Most people know that their hamstrings are “tight” or that they “hold their stress” in their upper back and neck.  However, the majority of the population is unaware of the different ways muscles are involved in their discomfort or why they are involved in the first place.  First, it is important to address the different types of pain and injuries that involve the muscular system.

What Are The Causes Of Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Trauma:  Strains, Tears, Bruising, etc

The most obvious example of muscle pain is a direct injury to the muscle itself.  These injuries can range from a mild to moderate strain to a full on tearing of the fibers.  In addition, blunt trauma can result in bruising and other complications.

A microscopic view of muscle fibers

Muscle Fiber

Trigger Points

Most commonly, people have tender “knots”, or trigger points, within the bellies of the muscle.  Trigger points are often tender to the touch and can be a generator of pain.  In addition, trigger points can inhibit proper function of a muscle group which can lead to problems in other areas.  Current theories suggest that the presence of a trigger point may be indicative of a dysfunctional system.  In other words, the trigger point itself is trying to stabilize the area and at times can be a wonderful thing in a poorly functioning system.


A tennis player holding their elbow in pain.
Tendinopathy is essentially irritation and/or dysfunction of the tendons within a muscle.  Tendons are what connect muscles to bones and are often irritated with repetitive actions.  For example, tendinopathy in the front of the knee is often a result of improper loading of the lower extremity.  Active individuals and those that have active jobs tend to bend and squat down throughout the day.  When we do a simple motion like this improperly, our tendons can take a beating resulting in pain where the tendon meets the bone.  Read About tendinopathy as it presents at the elbow.

Fascial Tightness

Tightness within the fascial system can coexist with other soft tissue problems or be a standalone issue.  Fascia is the saran wrap of the muscular system.  It overlies each individual muscle and is what truly connects the feet to the head.  More and more research is being done on the fascial system and its role in everyday pain.

Trigger Point Pain Referral

A diagram showing how trigger points in muscle refer pain to other parts of the body.

Travell JG, Simons DG. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction, The Trigger Point Manual, Vol. 1. Baltimore. Williams and Wilkins. 1993.

Muscle Pain Relief In Chesterfield

A Dr. using the Hypervolt on a hamstring.

Hypervolt Massage

A Dr. using myofascial release on the hamstrings.

Hamstring Myofascial Release

At Elite Chiropractic and Performance, treating muscle pain and dysfunction is a crucial component to helping our patients and clients decrease their symptoms and improve their function.  As with other conditions, a thorough evaluation is crucial to not only identifying what tissues are involved but also establishing the underlying cause.  These causes may be associated with poor postural habits, bad movement quality and form, and previous injuries.  Treatment will vary depending on the injury and can involve pain and swelling control (electrical stimulation, ultrasound, cryotherapy, etc) and/or hands on treatment (myofascial release, instrument assisted mobilization, fascial stripping, cupping).  In addition, soft tissue therapy is typically combined with joint manipulation to get the most bang for your buck.  Once symptoms and function are improved, a functional rehab program will be implemented to further enhance the individual.