Muscle And Joint Pain Causes

Here you will discover the most general muscle and joint pain causes.

If you read books and articles, it seems the causes reasons for muscle and joint problems are of an overwhelming number. While this is true, one thing gets overseen quite often. The fact that most of the times it boils down to just one factor: Abuse of our body. Here, abuse will mainly relate to bad movement patterns/habits and factors that influence them.


Abusive Behaviour And Trauma

Voluntary Overuse

Involuntary Overuse

Muscle Tension, Trigger And Tender Points


Further Articles

To put it in a nutshell: Bad movement patterns and abusive behavior of our body lead to muscular problems, which in turn generate muscle pain and eventually worsen movement patterns. Those worsened movement patterns lead to a non-physiological use of our joints, and are among others causes of joint pain.

Joint Pain Causes: Abusive Behavior And Trauma

With muscle and joint pain causes, in the vast majority the reason is an abusive behavior of the body. This is a universal principle that in my opinion should and cannot be denied. Everything that follows, ultimately is a consequence of that abusive behavior.

So what do I mean with abusive behavior? Abusive behavior displays an overuse of your body that will result in traumas which are often muscle and joint pain causes. Here on Painotopia I will limit myself to the overuse of the musculoskeletal system and consequently on muscular traumas.

Overuse of our muscles can occur voluntary or involuntary and will result in acute and/or chronic traumas. But overuse is a relative term. It is not the same for every person. It heavily depends on your “state of mind” and your physical training status. What is way too much for me, may be almost no challenge for you. It all depends on what we are adapted to.

Now I want to get a little bit more detailed and give you more specific examples of muscle and joint pain causes so that you will get the point.

Joint Pain Causes: Voluntary Overuse

The most common thing in voluntary overuse is physical activity. Keep in mind that every time we move our body we are physically active. Generally spoken, you are overusing your body when you do things that are way beyond your current capacity. Doing it every now and then will not affect you too much. But do it repeatedly and the trouble begins.

When exercising, you may lift weights that are too heavy for you. If you lift very heavy and way beyond your capabilities you might injure yourself – e.g. you strain a muscle–. By doing so, you experience an acute trauma as a result of your voluntary overuse.

A chronic trauma would be if you were exercising your whole body or certain muscle groups too frequently with insufficient rest. As soon as it gets too much for your body, you are creating little traumas every time you are asking your muscles for too much. Your body tolerates a lot but after a while this voluntary overuse and the resulting chronic traumas will lead to pain.

The period of time till the pain manifests depends on the factors time and intensity. Putting way too much stress on your body will result sooner in problems than over demanding it only slightly, but for a long time.  It may take only a few weeks till pain arises but it also may take months or even years.

A lot of times people say, after this training session, run or after that day of work I experienced that pain – e.g. shooting back pain –.They do not know why it happened as they did the same thing years over years without having any issues. Often they are helpless and search for that one single cause that triggered the problem, when in reality it was the sum of the overstress that accumulated over time which gave them eventually pain.

Joint Pain Causes: Involuntary Overuse

Involuntary overuse is a less complex topic. In 99% of the cases it is related to acute traumas. Here, acute traumas depict situations in which your muscles get overloaded suddenly by external forces. This is mostly the case in accidents – e.g.  car accident, slip and fall –.

Here the involved muscles get “surprised” by the unexpected happening and contract very hard in order to stabilize the affected joint – e.g. the muscles at the back of your neck get strained during a car accident as they want to stabilize the neck and stop its forceful forward motion during the collision –.

Of course, joint pain causes cannot always be referred to muscular problems. This is why I will give you an example on how a joint can be affected without the muscular system troubling it in the first place.

The knee is often involved in acute traumas which makes it a brilliant example. When skiing, you might fall and your upper body and thigh get twisted while your lower leg and foot cannot follow the motion fast enough as they are connected to the ski and the snow. This creates a shear force in the knee joint and often leads to tearing of the stabilizing structures – e.g. menisci, crucial ligaments –.

Here it is not too much tension on the muscular system that overloads the joint, but external forces.

Joint Pain Causes: Excessive Muscle Tension, Trigger And Tender Points

The abuse I have described above can and extremely often leads to the development of tender and trigger points.

Most of the times when muscles are held in static positions for longer periods of time or get worked too much with insufficient rest, they increase their tone and may develop tender and trigger points. Those points are a major contributor to muscle and joint pain causes as they trigger pain – if we discount here that overuse crated them in the first place –.

Usually they hurt when you press on them, but they may be so bad that that they even hurt while you are at rest.

Trigger points are little knots in your muscles and display an area of highly contracted and thus tight muscle tissue. They can occur in any skeletal muscle and are highly sensitive when you press on them. They give you pain right at their location but also may send pain to other seemingly unrelated parts of your body. This can create a lot of confusion when dealing with the causes of joint pain and/or muscle pain.

Tender points on the other hand are “only” painful when you press on them but will not send pain to any other parts of your body. Still, they are an indication that the muscle which contains them needs your attention and some work.

The fact that trigger points can and often do send pain to other parts of the body is evidence for one thing that is commonly and unfortunately overlooked by a lot of physicians. The area of pain and the source of pain – no matter if it is a muscle or a joint that aches – are rarely the same. This of course means that in most cases treating an aching muscle or joint with salves or massage will not bring relief as it is the symptom that is treated instead of the cause – if there is relief, it is mostly of transient nature –.

Of course there are exceptions to this finding. But those are mainly limited to the cases of acute traumas that were placed on a muscle or a joint.


Now that you know about the major muscle and joint pain causes, you can follow the next link where you will be led to the relief section.

Causes Of Joint Pain: Further Articles

Arm Pain

Neck Pain

Shoulder Pain

› Causes