Muscle knots in neck are one of the most common types of musculoskeletal pain disorder. They can form and develop anywhere in the body where there is muscle and fascia. For instance, neck, shoulders, back, calves, shin, and thighs, etc. Neck being the most vulnerable out of all. And that’s what this post is all about. We’ll talk about muscle knots in neck and how to remove them using all the effective methods at our disposal.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Muscle knots are palpable taut bands of skeletal muscle or fascia that hurts when pressed, touched or stressed. Also known as trigger points, or Myofascial Trigger points (MTrPs), these pain sensitive areas can refer intense pain even to the surrounding regions when stimulated. Hence the term, referred pain. The pain associated with these trigger points is called as Myofascial pain, in general. The medical term for this condition is Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS).
The National Institute of Health believes that a muscle knot might be a consequence of overuse of muscles, stress, trauma, repetitive movement, injuries, poor postures, over-sleeping, over-sitting, a whiplash and so on. However, the exact science behind muscle knots is still unclear. But hey, that doesn’t mean you cannot take appropriate measures to prevent, control and manage the pain.
We’ll talk about that in a short while.
But first let’s understand some of the major symptoms associated with muscle knots in neck or Cervical Myofascial Pain.
Muscle knots can form and develop anywhere in the body where there is muscle and fascia.
Symptoms of Muscle Knots in Neck
A muscle knot in neck can affect almost all the parts of your neck such as the base, the back and the side. The primary symptoms of muscle knots in the neck are:
- Localized muscle pain in neck.
- Trigger points that further stimulate the pain to the referred area such as shoulders, back and the skull.
Apart from that, other potential symptoms may include:
- Stiff muscles
- Poor posture and unsteady balance
- Pain (irrespective of whether the body is at rest or moving)
- Weight loss, fever and shivers
- Difficulty in movement of neck, arms and shoulders
- Pain in jaw and toothache
The only thing you need to remember here is that if you have a muscle knot in your neck, then the muscle fibers in your neck are contracting and tightening more than they should, causing pain that is sharp and achy.
Now, since these muscle knots are a result of overuse, poor posture, fatigue and overall a casual lifestyle, you can prevent them by making minor changes in the way you go about your daily routine. So, without further ado, let’s find out how you can you prevent muscle knots in the first place.
How to prevent the formation of Muscle knots?
The Canadian Chiropractic Association prescribes the following tips to prevent the formation and development of muscle knots from neck:
- Correct your posture whether you’re standing, sitting or sleeping.
- Don’t slouch but try to maintain a relaxed posture.
(Tip: Switching from one posture to another in a quick succession means that your body is not at rest. So, go for a comfortable position and stay with it.)
- Take sufficient rest or short breaks throughout your daily schedule.
- Exercise daily or on regular basis but don’t overdo it.
- If you do a sitting job, make sure to take frequent breaks and stretch your muscles so as to avoid them from getting too tight.
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Keep in mind that there is a very thin line between fitness and weakness. By following a healthy schedule, you can avoid many such illnesses on your own and avoid ample of your time, money and unnecessary suffering.
But again, you cannot be too sure since there are many risk factors associated with muscle knots in neck and Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS). Ageing, disease, accidents, stress and other chronic pain disorders such as Fibromyalgia. Check out our article on Fibromyalgia so as to avoid confusing it with MPS, since that happens a lot. Okay, so getting back to muscle knots in neck.
So, what happens in case you fail to prevent muscle knots from forming in the neck? Well, that’s when the diagnosis comes into picture.
Stretching and exercise are great ways to ease muscle knots in the neck.
Diagnosis of Muscle knots in Neck
In order to get started with a proper diagnosis, you need to first get examined by a professional. Your treatment depends on the physical examination which helps assess three main areas:
- The taut band of muscles
- Tender points or nodules
- And, your reaction when pressure is applied to the muscle knots and trigger points.
Depending upon the intensity of muscle knots and your pain tolerance, the physician will offer you effective therapies that you can choose from to treat your muscle knots.
Treatment of Muscle knots in Neck
The treatment of muscle knots typically includes medications, injections or physical therapy. Here’s a list of some of the effective techniques recommended by Mayo Clinic , and the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
- Stretching & Exercise
- Chiropractic treatment
- Acupuncture or Acupressure (Shiatsu)
- Massage therapy
- Ultrasound therapy
- Posture training
- Heat or Cold massage therapy
- Needle procedure (Dry needling, wet needling)
- Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anti-depressants and muscle relaxants
- Electric stimulation, and electric nerve stimulation
- Cold laser therapy
The kind of therapy or treatment you go with does not really matter since all of them are aimed at the same thing i.e. to relieve you off the pain and rid you off the knots. In any case, you should see a physician and get familiar with the procedure. Once you’ve gained sufficient knowledge of the process, you can try some of these methods on your own. Since myofascial pain has a tendency of popping up anytime out of nowhere, here’s what you can do in those desperate times.
Massaging is the most acclaimed technique for relieving muscle knots in the neck.
How to remove muscle knots from neck at home?
Although, you are recommended to get in touch with a professional for proper treatment, you can still try the following techniques on your own to ease up the pain.
is something you cannot ignore when fighting a muscle knot in your neck. Though, it may not target the muscle knot in your neck directly, it certainly eases up the referred pain from surrounding areas such as your back and shoulders. It is the best way to compensate for all the repetitive movements as well as reducing pain.
You can check with your physician to learn which the best stretches for your condition are. The University of Wisconsin-Madison advices to stretch only part way and hold it for 3-5 minutes for maximum benefit.
2. Meditation & Yoga
Mediation & Yoga are other effective practices to manage myofascial pain as claimed by the RECOUP Neuromusculoskeletal Rehabilitation Center, Bangalore, India. Meditation along with yoga asanas will help you deal with chronic pain, anxiety and depression effectively.
There are dozens of yoga poses that target your neck and surrounding region. Some of them like shoulder shrugs, head-to-hand release, Cat-Cow and cobra pose are therapeutic in nature. When done regularly, these therapeutic neck exercises can help relieve pain and tension from the muscle knots in your neck.
3. Self- massaging
Self-Massaging is the most acclaimed technique for relief from a muscle knot in the neck. By gently rubbing the knot and the latent trigger points, you may ease the muscle tension, and any tightness or restrictions. The most beneficial kind of massage according to UW Health is myofascial release in regards with muscle knots.
If you’re struggling to reach the muscle knot in your neck, back or shoulders, you can try using a tennis ball or foam roller to apply pressure to the knot.
Here’s a perfect self-massaging tool and trigger points massager for your neck and shoulders that you can buy from amazon. It’s a great product for relief from muscle knots and myofascial pain release from areas that may be out of your reach.
4. Heat/ Ice massaging
Heat/ Ice massaging is another great way for immediate relief from muscle knots in neck. You can switch between heat or icepacks depending upon whichever brings you the most relief. You can also take a hot shower to relieve muscle tension and reduce pain.
5. Compress your trigger points
Compress your trigger points to improve the blood flow to the muscle knot in your neck. Simply apply pressure on the muscle knot or trigger points for 5-10 seconds, and then release it. By doing this, first you’re limiting the blood flow to the affected area, then immediately letting a gush of blood flow into it. This increased blood flow will improve any tightness or stiffness from your muscles and let them relax.
6. Posture training
Posture training is quite useful in relieving myofascial pain, particularly from your neck as suggested by Mayo Clinic. Whether you sleep, sit, stand or walk, maintaining a balanced yet conformable posture will realign and strengthen all the surrounding muscles around the knot and trigger points. It will also help you avoid over-working on a single muscle.
7. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are pain relieving medicines available in the market. Although, they bring temporary relief from myofascial pain, they can most certainly be the best way for immediate relief in high times like when you cannot ignore the meeting you’ve been preparing for. Just take the pill and you’d be good to go! But remember, these medicines work best when combined with massaging and stretching. In any case, it’s rational to keep a few tablets handy, for you never know when the pain might sting.
Using massage balls to apply pressure on the knot can help you find relief from the pain.
Muscle knots in the neck can be excruciating and annoying. But now that you know the do’s and don’ts of it, you can manage the myofascial pain and remove muscle knots from your neck on your own by trying these simple yet effective techniques.
Remember to not expect too much in the beginning though. Sometimes, it may be sorted out after a few treatment/therapy sessions, while some, especially the chronic ones, might take a longer duration. In case the problem persists for long, then you should contact your physician and maybe try some alternative methods like needling, acupuncture, laser therapy or electric stimulation.
I’m hopeful that the information provided in this post will help you find relief so as to get back to enjoying your everyday life without pain or worries.
A freelance writer, a poet and an avid reader. He’s a passionate wordsmith who believes in writing content which is simple, beautiful and informative. He’s a practised communicator coached by British Academy.
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