Muscle Pain vs Nerve Pain – Understanding the Difference
There any many different reasons why our body can cause us to have pain, true pain is an indication of potential tissue damage and it helps us to avoid serious injury – think about times when you’ve burned yourself on boiling water or cut yourself with a knife – you remove yourself from the situation to avoid further injury due to the level of the pain you get!
Mostly we experience pain or discomfort on lower levels, and this can be generated from different tissues in the body and for different reasons. Two of those sources can be nerves and muscles and there can be many reasons why these tissues generate pain. This blog will focus briefly on how and why pain is caused and what you can do about it to reduce your symptoms.
Nerve pain can be due to aggravation, compression or damage to the nerve root which starts at the spine or the main body of the nerve which can run through body parts such as the arms and legs.
The type of feeling people can experience can be often very varied and sometimes people find it difficult to explain their nerve pain. Common descriptions include:
- Pins and Needles
In some instances, people also describe numbness and loss of sensation into certain body parts. Nerve pain can also be strong in nature and sometimes it is often worse on an evening or night. This is due to lower blood pressure and reduced blood supply to the nerve tissues – and if they are in pain, they produce more of it as prompt for us to ,move to help deliver blood and help reduce the problem. Be prepared if you have nerve pain you should make sure to stay hydrated at night.
Causes of Nerve Pain
Causes of nerve pain can again be due to many different reasons. Typical conditions people will suffer from are trapped nerves in the neck which extends to the arms and sciatica in the lower back and legs. Spinal discs when injured can bulge, press on a nerve and cause pain but equally a tight joint or over-active muscle in the neck and back can cause extra pressure around nerves and this can cause pain to develop.
Treatment of Nerve Pain
Treatment of nerve pain should be considered once a good diagnosis has been provided from a healthcare professional. Medication may be needed to help you sleep or control most of your pain levels but if the cause is due to a physical reason such as a tightness or spasm in a muscle or joint which is compressing the nerve then deep tissue and sports massage can help to alleviate the root cause and allow the body to move freely. Look at performing regular mobility exercises to free your range of movement and to exercise the nerve to help increase blood flow.
Nerve issues respond well to heat treatment with things like hot water bottles and heat pads. Being fully hydrated helps to improve your blood pressure which in turn should help to reduce your nerve pain as it means increased blood supply to the affected tissues.
Mobility Lumbar Spine
Mobility Thoracic Spine
Mobility Neck Extension
Mobility Neck Side Flexion
Muscle pain tends to be a lot simpler in nature and easier to treat and manage. Pain in your muscles can again be classified depending on what severity of pain you are experiencing. Muscle pain is typically described as tightness, soreness and tenderness with the severity ranging from low to high depending on the cause.
Causes of Muscle Pain
Pain can be caused due to trauma such as impact or over stretching which can cause a tearing in the muscle. Overuse or intense exercise can cause soreness often referred to as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which can last 1-2 days and become apparent the next day following exercise.
All muscle pain Is due to trauma to the fibres which results in small tearing which generates soreness throughout the tissues. Inflammation and swelling in muscles can also add to the level of pain you experience.
Treatment of Muscle Pain
Most muscle soreness is something that can be easily managed and treated but if it is due to an injury or you have high levels of pain seek help via a healthcare professional.
Management of muscle pain can be done with the following:
- Active recovery – low grade exercise like walking, swimming and stretching.
- Pain relief if needed
- Foam Roller to help alleviate pain levels
- Massage – deep tissue or sports massage
- Heat therapy
Foam Rolling – Hamstring
Foam Rolling – Quadriceps
Foam Rolling – Lumbar Extension
Foam Rolling – Glute and Piriformis
At MSK Sports Injury Clinic in Newcastle, Westerhope – we specialise in soft tissue treatments such as deep tissue and sports massage to help recovery from muscle and nerve pain. Our experienced therapists are knowledgeable in regard to identifying potential causes and helping to address the root of the problem. If you are having any persistent pain from muscle or nerve problems add a good stretching, foam rolling and mobility routine to your daily routine as well as keeping your self hydrated. Remember when stretching to stretch for minimum of 40 seconds. If this pain persists then call us for further information or book an appointment online through the website so you can start your recovery straight away.