"Knots" on muscles

Whenever I give or receive a massage, occasionally people claim to have or feel in me “knots”. It seems to me that either muscles would have cysts, which no amateur masseuse could work out, or be tensed constantly, which says that the subject has no muscle control. Neither of those options satisfactorily explains the behavior of these dubious knots. Are there any massage or medical professionals that can explain this phenomenon (or lack thereof) to me?


Thanks a bunch. I tried Wikipedia, WebMD, the Straight Dope archives – everything except googling for “muscle knots”. :smack:

Thanks again.

There seems remarkably little known about this and the apparently related Fibromyalgia. Has anyone got a reason as to why muscles form “knots”?

I’d take the cited link with a few grains of salt, guys! Not all “muscle knots” are trigger points (tho many are) nor are they necessarily areas of low oxygen with poor perfusion.

Some muscle knots tend to form when the muscle fibers, instead of smoothly interacting with the next fiber down the line from it in the muscle band, start interlinking with neighboring muscle fibers parallel to them. This is more likely to happen with overuse, underuse, prolonged muscle contractions, or pressure on the affected muscle. It’s not clear whether the low blood flow is the cause or the effect of the knot.

Picture long hair, nice and smoothly combed out and hanging down. The hairs are muscle fibers. Now imagine a tangle in the hair. That’s the knot. No medications or injections will help to untangle it. Generally firm massage right on the point is most beneficial.

Qadgop, so, can you “untangle” the muscle fibers, or just squish them out? When I get massaged, every single massage therapist has found horrible knots in my neck - things that I don’t feel unless the therapists are digging into them. Are they doing any medical good? (The article came off a bit quack-y).

I’ve found massage works best, yes. I’ve patients who have tried muscle relaxers (I refuse to give them for knots, they don’t work), injections of steroids and lidocaine, even surgery to have them cut out. Folks generally weren’t happy that they’d had those things done, but maybe I’m just seeing the dissatisfied ones.

But massage therapy, gentle stretching, alternating hot/cold packs or soaks, and distraction therapy (like sex) seems to be most effective. In my non-scientific observational literature-review opinion.

I’ve not tried a comb with really sharp teeth yet.

Ok, that begs the question - if you write a 'script for that, will Walgreens honor it? :roll:

Ice and massage. I have a wacked-out back and get these fairly frequently, mostly in my shoulders. And the only thing that works is to ice them for a while then find somebody to massage them.

My poor sweetie, I’m sitting or lying there saying, “Ow! Shit, that hurts! Don’t stop, you’ve got it right there – ow!” The first time I had him work on one I don’t think he quite knew what to make of it…

Boy, you got it in one, whiterabbit. It hurts soooo goooooood! “Ow! Aaagh! Harder, dammit! Harder!”