Muscle Pain - How To Stop, Prevent and Control It
For most chronic pain patients muscle pain is very excruciating pain, however it is avoidable and treatable using interferential therapy for immediate relief and prevention when used on a systematic schedule.
For many chronic pain patients there is a continuing problem associated with muscle pain. The patient may experience tightness, tension in an area, and in the worst of situations, actual spasms causing excruciating pain. Spasticity often is present following surgical procedures such as total knee replacement or other invasive surgical procedures where the muscle tissue is literally cut. To go into spasm, following cutting, is extremely agonizing. As a general rule pain in muscles is one of the simpler pain syndromes that can be totally eliminated using electrotherapy such as tens or interferential therapy. The biggest issue is not to treat muscle pain, but to prevent it from ever occurring in the first place.
One of the warnings for anyone using a tens unit, transcutaneous electronic neural stimulator, or an interferential unit, such as the Infrex Plus, is this:
- "This device should not be worn while driving or operating machinery...."
The purpose of the statement is that during stimulation it is not uncommon for a patient's muscles to actually relax and the patient is able to lose the tenseness, the pain, and becomes drowsy because the muscle pain and tightness evaporates. It is more common for any chronic pain patient that has been experiencing muscle pain continuously for long periods of time. The change is welcome relief.
The best treatment protocol is to never allow the muscle pain to start but with chronic pain patients it's rare for any patient to have effective intervention prior to the muscle pain starting. Muscle pain is generally a secondary pain originating due to guarding, shielding, and posturing due to original pain sourcing.
Most patients are aware when their muscles start to "tighten", they become uncomfortable and are warning of impending pain. The precursors are:
- Loss of motion
- Extreme tightness -not unusual to palpate and the muscles hard as rock
- Posture shifting to avoid additional stress to the muscle group
- Potential headaches - especially for upper shoulder, neck areas
It is when the precursors are noticed that defensive intervention is needed. The process can be halted and reversed with proper treatment. By using electrodes that cover much of the neural origins of the muscle group a pleasant sensation is introduced using the tens or interferential unit on a "high" setting (equal to or greater than 70 pps - pulses per second for tens, 4,070 pps for interferential). The pleasant sensory sensation actually reduces the tension and prevents further guarding/shielding before the muscle pain starts.
Using interferential for short 20 - 30 minute treatment time periods can stop the muscle pain completely when used as a preventive for several weeks. If a patient experiences tightness then a proper treatment would be to treat the muscles early in morning prior to starting the day or late at night prior to sleeping. The relaxing treatments may help the patient actually sleep, or prevent muscle tightness as the person begins activities which normally result in muscle pain. Also if the patient engages in activities during the day that normally results in muscle pain then by using a portable tens or portable combination Interferential & Tens device the unit can be worn and actually on for treatment while the activity is being performed.
Over time the use of interferential to prevent muscle pain and tightness seems to be a form of biofeedback for the patient who learns to "slow down and relax" once the precursor symptoms start. There is knowledge there is a physical modality to use if needed and eventually the modality is used less frequently since the pain patient now has control.
With interferential due to the much longer carryover pain relief, which tens does not have, a simple arnica pain patch worn around the muscle may be sufficient for effective prevention and the pain totally eliminated.
It is the small steps of pain prevention that helps the chronic pain patient survive and prosper.