Muscle Tension

Muscle Tension services offered in The Loop, Chicago, IL

Muscle tension is a frequent cause of headaches and musculoskeletal pain. If you suffer from chronic muscle tension, visit the highly skilled specialists at Michigan Avenue Primary Care in The Loop of downtown Chicago, Illinois. They use their expertise to determine tension’s causes and find effective solutions. Call Michigan Avenue Primary Care or use the online booking form to request an in person or telehealth evaluation today. Same-day appointments are also available.

What is muscle tension?

Muscle tension is a common cause of musculoskeletal pain. It happens when the muscles can’t relax properly.

When you move, your brain transmits electrical signals to nerves that control the muscles you need to activate. The muscles contract (tighten) so you can walk, scratch your nose, or adjust your gaze.

After completing the task, your muscles should relax until you need to use them again. Sometimes, muscles remain fully or partly contracted after completing a movement instead of relaxing because your brain continues to transmit signals to the nerves.

Muscle tension can last hours or days, triggering aching, pain, fatigue, and headaches. Knots can form in the tissues after prolonged bouts of muscle tension, creating painful trigger points.

What causes muscle tension?

Stress frequently results in muscle tension. Other causes include:

  • Dehydration
  • Delayed-onset muscle soreness after vigorous exercise
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Medications like statins (used to treat high cholesterol)
  • Claudication (a symptom of peripheral arterial disease)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Chronic exertional compartment syndrome
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Dystonia (random, involuntary muscle contractions)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lupus
  • Tick-borne conditions like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Radiculopathy (pinched spinal nerves)

Bacterial and viral infections may also cause muscle tension.

How is muscle tension diagnosed?

To diagnose muscle tension, your Michigan Avenue Primary Care provider requests your medical history and performs a physical exam. They may also run lab tests to look for muscle damage and rule out underlying conditions.

Tests may include:

  • Blood work
  • MRI or CT scans
  • An electromyogram (EMG)
  • Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) tests
  • An ultrasound scan

Based on their findings, your provider prepares a comprehensive treatment plan to relieve muscle tension and address its cause.

How is muscle tension treated?

The specific treatment Michigan Avenue Primary Care uses for muscle tension varies depending on the condition’s cause.

With stress being the most common trigger, stress management is often vital to resolve symptoms and prevent their return. Gentle stretching and promoting muscle relaxation with massage, yoga, or tai chi is often highly beneficial.

Muscle tension triggered by stress, minor injuries, or overuse often responds well to warm compresses or heating pads that help relax the affected muscle. Treatment for more severe muscle tension may involve taking medications and/or receiving physical therapy. Steroid injections and dry needling help to ease trigger points.

Call Michigan Avenue Primary Care to arrange an expert muscle tension evaluation or request an appointment via the online booking feature.