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neck / shoulder muscle knots
23 Replies
mejosp - December 24

hi, does anybody else have the symptom with their neck / shoulder muscles having HUGE knots in them? it causes that i don't have full radius to turn my head to even drive properly. i have gone thru physical therapy, deep massages, apply heat, do therapy stretches at home - and it all just re-knots up again and sometimes the spasms into the head are terrible. any suggestions for relief?


tnichel - December 24

This is my number one complaint since being diagnosed. I mention it everytime I see my rheumy but he ignores it. One time he did mention getting a bite guard.

I was diagnosed with TMJ in my teens but it didn't get bad until the last year or so when my jaw locked. It can cause a lot of neck, back, and arm problems. My dentist is fitting me for a bite guard. She says I may have to wear it during the day b/c I unknowingly grind my teeth.

I try to sit in my massage chair everday but it's hard to hit the neck muscles. I do neck stretches and rolls. I went to the chiropractor for a while and it helped at first but then my muscles tightened so much it was pointless to keep going.

I also use a bed buddy. You can get them at walgreens. You heat it in the microwave and it provides warm, moist heat. I notice more of the knots are on the sides of my necks and even the front. It's pretty hard to massage those locations. Do you have the same problems with those locations? Also, If I'm not careful and lean against my chair massager too hard my neck will go out and I want be able to turn my head for a few days.

And I also you salonspas. They are miniature pain patches I put on the part of my neck that hurt most. I used them all over b/c they are great for kinks in your back and arms. I know it's not much but I hope this may help you. Oh, I got a deep tissue massage before. It felt good but it really didn't release my tense neck muscles. I'm going to give it one more shot.


Fantod - December 24

Those are the dreaded trigger points, another *perk* of FMS. You can have them injected to break the pain cycle. My doctor uses Sarapin which is a derivative of the pitcher plant. It works quite well if you can stand the injection.
Sarapin does not cause tissue damage like cortisone.

Another alternative is moist heat? Take a hand towel and wet it in the middle - leaving the ends dry. Put it in the microwave to heat it up. Use the dry ends of the towel to wring out and excess moisture and apply to to the affected area.

My final solution is Malic Acid which can be found in any decent health food store. It stops the muscles from cramping and twitching etc. I take 825 mg at night so I am not up hopping around with a charley horse in the wee hours. Be sure you understand the risks associated with any supplement and the correct way to take it.

Take care and Happy Holidays!


tnichel - December 25

Hi Fantod. Was it your primary doctor who gave you the Sarapin shots? It's gotten to the point now where I can barely stand to put pressure on the points but it's worth it when the tension drains from head. Only problem is the knots return much quicker than they used to no matter what I do. Even relaxation techniques aren't helping. BTW, my doc put my on cymbalta right before thanksgiving. I definitely prefer it over the lyrica. My head is much clearer.


mejosp - December 25

yes, i also use the salonspas, but i have to limit myself because they irritate my skin. but it is the ONLY time i have relief is with them. that constant heat for such a long period of time really helps alot. but if i don't use them for one day, POW, knots back again. my knots are on the sides of my neck, base of back of my neck along the spine, and then where the neck and shoulders meet. the doctor said that because of the knots, that is why the extreme pain in the head sometimes cause there is no 'give' in the muscles. i have had one knot on my back, right along my spine for "forever" which hurts to the touch. i am so careful about any deep massaages on the neck though, it is a no-win situation.


Taleese - December 26

I also use an Esteam machine to help with the notes. The ones in my neck and shoulders are the worst. I was given the Esteam at physical Therapy and it relieved the tension and knots so they prescribed me a personal machine for home use.


tnichel - December 27

Taleese, can you explain what the estream machine is and what it does? And Mejosp, what happens when you massage too hard? Does your neck go out. I'm wondering if its just me. I got a homedics shiatsu anywhere pillow for christmas. It's $40 dollars and walgreen. I love it. It hits those neck muscles/knots perfectly.


Lherbert - December 28

I'm got a simple product I made to provide deep tissue myofascial relief aftr I had open rotator cuff surgery. It is a bag a very firm EVA balls, that you lay on. Your back is easy enough to treat, but the neck it is harder to get deep into the neck muscles. You can put on the armrest of a sofa and press into it, or for max penetration, place in on the floor and bring your kness over your head and that will provide more deep pressure than you need.

I'm trying to get the word out and have been giving them out to a few poeple for feedback, including a couple of physical therapists. I'd be willing to send one to you for a free trial if you want.


JOEGIRL - February 14

I know what it feels like when your neck and shoulders hurts. When it starts I grab my heating pad. Thats the only thing that seems to help. My dr. has me on norco for pain.I take one when I just can't take the pain anymore. I never even took a asprin before this fibro hit me. When it did hit me it was like a slap in the face. Just came on overnight, At least thats what it felt like to me.


axxie - February 14

I had the same problem, I go see the chiropractor, after spending almost 2 years at the physio who could only get so much out. I followed my friends advice and voila a few treatments later and the knots are gone, my neck/shoulder hurt but I get my back adjusted he also adjusts my neck and shoulders. It worth the money.


Lherbert - February 24

You can do the research yourself, but generally muscle knots are an accumulation of triggerpoints that start growing at a microscopic level. The best information is a 347 pg tutorial by Paul Ingraham, but it costs $15. His site has a blog and some good basic information about trigger points.

I would recommend using a shiatsubag massage pillow. They offer two versions, one with very hard foam balls, and the other with softer 4" balls recommended for people suffering from Fibro.
You can sleep with it and it will slowly break down the knots.


Occupational Therapist - March 12

Unfortunately, once you have trigger points, they keep coming back. You get it for a variety of reasons...bad posture, incorrect methods of moving (walking, sitting, standing, lifting, etc.), incorrect exercise, and stress. Healing them requires patience and consistency.

Make a accupressure device...obtain a pair of socks (no itchy ones), put one tennis ball in each sock, then tie them together...about 3 inches apart. Use tennis balls are better because they're softer.

2-3 hours before sleeping...apply heat (bathing, hot packs, etc...wet heat is better than dry). The heat should never be uncomfortable and no longer than 15 minutes for direct heat and 30 minutes in a lukewarm bath.

Go to your room...Turn on soothing music...turn down the lights...whatever helps you relax.

Use the tennis ball device on top of your bed, to massage the trigger points. If it's your first time or if you hurt a lot...use very light pressure. You can do this by using a pillow to support your head. It should be "feel so good pain"...not searing pain. Stop if you start feeling naseaous. This is a sign that you're over doing it. If you're especially sensitive...take pain medication half hour before the massage.

Be careful not to be over-zealous and make things worse. Your first session should be no more than 10-15 minutes. Try to check with how your body feels every 3-5 minutes.

After your massage...don't get up too quickly. Try to visualize your muscles loosening up...and/or other soothing images.

Repeat this everyday until your trigger points release. Some will find complete relief in 3 days and others may take a week or all depends on how bad the trigger point is and all the other mitigating factors (bad posture, bad exercise, or stress).

Note: Your ability to tolerate the pressure of the tennis ball should increase everyday. This means you can increase the pressure as needed. For example...massaging on the bed with pillows with used tennis balls (1st level), massaging on the bed with no pillows, massaging on the bed with new tennis balls, massaging on the floor with pillow...etc.

Sorry for such a long answer.


hellou - March 16

Hi I suffer terribly from this in my shoulders. I was applying heat but its actually ice packs wrapped in something like a tea towel you need to apply. I didn't realise this until my doc pointed it out. You also need to do stretching exercises. It does help. Good luck


akasuga - March 18

I had a herniated disc in my back some time ago and my pain management doc gave me a script for "Lidocaine patches". They are much like Salonpas in that they stick to the skin, but they numb the area rather than warm it up. I've never had any skin irritation with them. The biggest drawback is they are horrendously expensive! But might be worth a try in order to get some relief!


belle1329 - March 19

Fortunately I have a hot tub, we purchase about 10 yrs ago, for my Husbands back problem, which helped him. It does have massage jets which seem to hit the spots ok, a little awkward but I manage to get just enough, I use it alot and it helps alot,with other symptoms also, my ice cold blue toes and fingers love it and its relaxing , best investment ever.


justachick - March 20

There is some really good suggestions here. I was diagnosed in 1995 and this is truly my hardest sympton. Something that has not been mentioned here is the possibility of herniated discs in your neck. According to my doctor it is believed that 50% of people with FM also have herniated discs in their neck. I had an MRI in 2004 and what do you know 4 herniated discs. The knowledge helped me cope better. Don't know why.

I think that the key thing to know is there is no cure all. What helps one person might not help you. For instance heat helps me & cold helps my sister (also has FM). I use the salonspas with a heating pad. Don't over use them because the heat can be too much and your sking can become iritated. Physical therapy using the electronic stim helps a great deal if you can afford it. Also accupuncture and accupressure can cause temporary relief. Again can you afford it. Another big help is a really good magnesium supplement. Try to find one with malic acid.

The last thing I would reccommend is strecting and mild Very Low impact exercise. Think yoga, walking. Don't over do it. The exercise will release your natural endorphins which can provide real although again temporary relief. It also can reduce your need for medication during the day.

I would caution you to find out about herniated discs before you go to a chiropractor, massage therapist, or physical therapist. They can all agravate the pain if they are not aware of the herniation. I hope this helps. It did me. PS Try one remedy at a time so you can actually pinpoint what helps YOU. We all have FM but it affects us each differently.


brsalts56 - October 29

After the injection, do you have sorenesss in the area of injection for a day or two. My wife has recently received Sarapin injections for bulging cervical discs. Let me know thanks for the help.



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