Muscle pain

EXTRA INFORMATION

Investigating the impact of muscle pain on chronic pain

WHAT WE KNOW

In addition to being caused by overt muscle damage, muscle pain (myalgia) more often develops from the demand for recurrent isometric muscular contractions involved in repetitive activity.

Characteristically, there is increased ‘muscle tone’, mild to severe pain, tender areas of hypersensitivity to mechanical stimulation in the muscle and spread of this hypersensitivity to surrounding muscles, each of which can affect the performance of synergist muscles.

However, the mechanisms by which acute muscle pain becomes pathological are yet to be understood. One idea relies on changes in muscle spindles, which are highly sensitive stretch receptors located in skeletal muscles throughout the body. Muscle spindles are unusual sensory organs in that they have their own motor innervation – fusimotor motoneurones – which can modulate the sensitivity of muscle spindles to static and dynamic muscle stretch and thereby influence their capacity to encode changes in muscle length and hence the sensory feedback they provide.

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