Soft tissue pain

Albert Giménez

4 November, 2010

To suffer pain in certain parts of the body, without being able to identify very well where it is located or what is the cause, is one of the most frequent health problems in people of all ages. To find out what origin is the first step to calm the patient and establish the best guidelines for treatment.

In cases where the specific causes of an illness are not known, doctors usually call them by referring directly to the symptoms. An example is when we call "soft tissue pain", which refers to discomfort in some part of the system that connects the muscles to the tendons and ligaments (not to the bones) and from which the causes are unknown.

When a patient complains of "bone pain" or "pain in the joints" the doctor assumes that in reality the problem is to articulate. However, both the pain and other symptoms of the musculoskeletal type (rigidity, weakness, difficulty in movements, tingling ...) can originate in a variety of extra-articular structures (soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, stools , nerves ...). In fact, many patients with radiological signs of severe arthritis degeneration do not refer to any symptomatology in practice.

How to make a correct diagnosis?
We could think that if we do not know clearly the causes it is very difficult to make a correct diagnosis and, therefore, a good treatment.

In these cases, the doctor's job is to find the structure that can be the origin of the symptoms through the interrogation of the patient, the detailed and intentional physical examination, as well as studying the results of the tests complementary

For example, it is very important to define if there is inflammation around the joints, as well as to identify the pattern of appearance or disappearance of the pain and patterns that precipitate it, aggravate or diminish it. Although it is common for inflammation, it is usually found in areas that are not very extensive, for example, in tendon insertes or bags.

The causes of pain
Usually soft tissue pain is caused by acute or, even more frequent, trauma by repeated overloads in a body area. For this reason, it is very important to know certain aspects of the patient, such as occupation, sports habits and physical conditioning, repeat activities or any other factor that may contribute to mechanical dysfunction (if it takes bad positions, if the legs they do not measure the same ...).

Age is another factor that must be taken into account, because over time tendons lose flexibility and elasticity, which is why they are more susceptible to injury.

Regarding treatment, there is a wide variety of medications that can alleviate the symptoms, but by themselves they do not solve the problem. You also need to intervene with other measures that eradicate the causes that originate it, such as correcting postural habits, slowing down if the cause is overweight or physical exercise to regain muscle tone if you experience atrophy or hypotrophy disuse (loss of tone).

There are also treatments that can help alleviate pain such as physiotherapy with all its range of manual techniques and electrotherapy (massage, ultrasound ...).

Ask the doctor to teach us self-care techniques and to explain clearly the causes that cause pain will cause us not to worry too much about thinking that we have a serious illness and, at the same time, we will be able to get more involved in the short and long term treatment time limit.

the author

Albert Giménez

Sports physician and osteopath of the Claror Sardenya

Degree in Medicine (UAB). Osteopath

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