Muscle Pain? It Might Actually Be Your Fascia. Signs to Look For

Muscle Pain? It Might Actually Be Your Fascia. Signs to Look For | ProActive Pilates

We’ve all dealt with muscle pain from seemingly simple activities—whether it’s a long day at work or simply sleeping funny on your neck. But did you know that some of the time, the culprit behind your pain isn’t the muscles at all? In many cases, the pain you feel is actually caused by the wrapping around the muscle: the fascia.

What is Fascia?

Fascia is an interconnected web of connective tissue that spans all across the body. It sits between the skin and the muscle allowing your tissues to move and flex freely. It also spans the surface of many internal organs, supporting them and holding them in place. It also supports bones, blood vessels, and nerve fibres.

Fascia isn’t just for connecting tissues, however. It also has nerves in it, which makes it sensitive and can even cause it to tense up under stress. In many cases, it’s this stress-induced tension that ends up putting a strain on your muscles, leading to pain, stiffness, and a lack of mobility.

Healthy fascia is lubricated by a fluid called hyaluronan, which allows it to slide and stretch as your body moves. However, this fluid can sometimes dry up in certain spots, causing the fascia to become thick and sticky—this is known as a fascial adhesion. This leads to fascia becoming dry and tight around your muscles, limiting your range of motion and causing ongoing pain as time goes on.

What Causes Fascia Adhesion?

There are a few common ways that fascia can become dry and create physical problems for you. The most common is a sedentary lifestyle. If your routine doesn’t include much physical activity on a regular basis, it can cause your fascia to become gummed up and sticky, leading to muscle pain that only seems to get worse as time goes on.

Another common cause for fascia adhesion is the repetitive overworking of certain parts of the body. We see this especially with physical labour, such as repetitive bending or lifting. But it can also happen with people who spend long hours working at a desk or on their feet.

The last common cause of fascial adhesion is trauma caused by surgery or an injury. Though this is a less common scenario, it’s no surprise that a jolt to the body from a sports injury or from undergoing a surgical procedure can affect the sensitive fascia.

How Do I Know If It’s Fascia Pain?

It can sometimes be hard to determine the source of your pain by yourself. The best way is always to sit down with a physiotherapist—they’ll be able to use their experience and knowledge to figure out the root of the problem, getting you on the road to recovery sooner.

With that said, there are a few telltale signs that often indicate pain is caused by adherent fascia. This is a phenomenon known as myofascial pain syndrome. There are a few main signs of myofascial pain syndrome to be on the lookout for:

Pain Getting Worse Over Time

The number one way to distinguish myofascial pain from muscle pain is the way it heals (or doesn’t heal). Muscle pain can be quite severe at the beginning, but should slowly and surely get better as you rest, hydrate, massage, and stretch. Fascia pain, on the other hand, is much harder to treat on your own. And because the fascia web is so interconnected, it only leads to more pain as time goes on.

Deep, Aching Muscle Pains

It can be hard to describe different kinds of pain to those who have never experienced it. But if you’ve ever suffered from myofascial pain syndrome, you’ll know that it feels quite different from usual muscle pain. Rather than a painful but manageable soreness in the muscles, myofascial pain feels like an ache coming from much deeper within the tissues.

Pain Under Pressure

Even a sore muscle will be a little tender when pushed on, but it doesn’t compare to the feeling of putting pressure on a fascia point that’s adherent and painful. These hotspots in the fascia are called trigger points, and are usually the starting point for myofascial pain syndrome. If you feel severe, highly localized pain when you push down on this spot, it’s likely an issue with fascia.

(Seemingly) Unrelated Pain Throughout the Body

Unlike other kinds of pain, dry fascia in one area can cause problems in a completely different part of the body. This is called referred pain, a symptom that occurs with myofascial pain syndrome. It’s caused by the web of fascia sending signals to other parts of the body as it struggles, leading to more and more painful trigger points popping up throughout the body over time.

What Do I Do About Fascia Pain?

If you’re dealing with any of the signs and symptoms listed above, you’re no doubt looking for some much-needed relief. The first step in getting the help you need is to sit down with an expert.

When you work with a physiotherapist to address myofascial pain syndrome, it all begins with the initial consultation. In this appointment, your physiotherapist will take the time to learn about the issues you’re facing and do some tests to diagnose the issue properly. This can include gently putting pressure on sore areas to feel for the issue. They might also look for other signs of fascia trouble, like muscle twitches. During this process, they’ll be looking for anything that rules out regular muscle pain or other issues.

Once the consultation is complete, it’s time to get to work on treating the issue at hand. In physiotherapy, this process centres around various exercises which are customized to your needs. It typically involves plenty of stretching to help get the fascia moving normally again. It might also include tool-assisted therapy, such as rolling on specially designed balls to stimulate the fascia and help it relax and rehydrate. They also might use therapeutic massage to help relax the surrounding muscles.

If you’re ready to start feeling good again, the first step is to sit down with an expert on the human body. ProActive Pilates is a great choice for those looking for physiotherapy in Port Coquitlam. I always take the time to understand each patient’s unique needs, and work closely alongside you to make sure your recovery is as smooth as possible. I also offer Fascial Release workshops, which you can check on my website for upcoming dates.

Ready to get started? Get in touch with me today or go ahead and book your initial assessment online.

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