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What Causes Muscles to Knot Up or Be Sore?

By Rose Kitchen

Muscle knots, also referred to as myofascial trigger points, are described as abnormal areas in the muscle, according to Seth Rosenbaum, M.D. Muscle knots often form when the muscle is experiencing a spasm. A muscle spasm occurs when a muscle is in a continuous contraction and typically follows an injury.

Acute Trauma

Trigger points can be caused by acute trauma. Acute trauma is a type of injury that happens suddenly, is severe and only lasts for a short period of time, according to the certified Hyperstrike athletic trainers. This could include a fall, automobile accident or sports injury. Treating the acute injury can help to resolve the associated muscle knots. If the muscle knots persist, doctors can prescribe a treatment plan to help treat them separately.

Predisposing Activities

Certain activities will put you at risk for developing trigger points, or muscle knots and soreness. These activities include holding a phone between your shoulder and ear for extended periods of time, sitting in a chair with little to no back support, lifting things improperly and bending over a table for a long period of time, according to an article published in the journal American Family Physician. Stopping the predisposing activities can help to relieve the muscle knots and soreness, or prevent them from developing in the first place.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

This condition is simply defined as chronic muscle pain. It is characterized by having ongoing painful trigger points, or muscle knots, according to the This pain tends to worsen or persist. Trigger point injections, physical therapy and medications can help to alleviate the pain and muscle knots. Physical therapy often includes massage, stretching and finding the cause of the pain. Trigger-point injections involve injecting an anesthetic medication, a corticosteroid or both into the painful areas. Medications that can be used include antidepressant medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.


This condition is characterized by chronic muscle pain, trigger points and fatigue. Patients will have tender points in their muscles, tendons, joints and other soft tissues, according to MedlinePlus. Physical therapy, a nutritious diet, low-impact exercise, relaxation techniques and a variety of medications can help to alleviate the symptoms. The medications used can include anti-seizure medications, pain relieving medications, certain antidepressants, sleeping medications and muscle-relaxing medications.

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