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Thread: Chronic muscle stiffness

  1. #1

    Smile Chronic muscle stiffness


    I wonder if anyone else has experienced this problem? I think it all started when I had been for a brisk walk on a cold day - reached halfway and stood for a moment to look down into a stream and then turned for home. I immediately noticed that one knee felt tight - for no reason that I could think of. I had to walk home by which time it was hurting. I rested it and put ice on, then eventually went to a physio and it seemed to be going OK - still walking but less far. I asked her for some strenthening exercises and she recommended some with a resistance band, which I did, but they really made me ache. She thought I had put too much effort into it. I continued with them for a short while before changing to yoga and stretching but things just got worse. I do some somatic exercises and I have been to see an osteopath. However, my muscles are now so tight - everywhere - including my shoulders/neck/arms, lower back, legs front and back etc. that he can't manipulate the joint.

    Some of this may be due to stress about coming out of lockdown, the death of my last relative in my father's family, studying, and general uncertainty. One thing is for sure I just can't seem to get these muscles to relax at all. It is painful to turn over in bed - in fact it's painful to do most things - just occasionally it seems to loosen a little and then tighten right back up again. Certainly the stress levels have risen with all this going on. All this has happened over a period of about 7-8 weeks. Before that I was walking in the hills, walking on the flat every day and felt as loose and fit as a flea! Now I feel like an absolute wreck and don't know what to do about it. My chiropractor can't do anything much as the muscles are so tense - so I am going around in circles. Not exercising as much I find is quite depressing as well.

    If anyone has experienced anything like this I'd love to hear how you overcame it and got back to normal

    Thank you for reading.

  2. #2

    Re: Chronic muscle stiffness

    I shall update with things I am trying to sort this one myself in case I come across anything that might help someone else. This morning I went for an acupuncture session - our local college are holding free sessions to allow students to increase their practice now that they are open again, so you can have 4 sessions free and then you start to pay. The acupuncturist seemed to understand what I was talking about so I have booked another five sessions - she said it was hard to know where to start (all muscle groups seem to be tight) so I suggested I stand in the middle of the room and rotate while she took aim from the door . Anyway, she started on the neck and shoulders and down the arm - I have large knots - one each side on the arms. Let's see how it goes. She was not at all phased by the suggestion that the anxiety would not allow the muscles to relax and suggested a book - I think it is called 'The Body keeps a Record'. I shall look for it later. I'll add anything else that seems helpful as and when.

  3. #3

    Re: Chronic muscle stiffness

    I just posted a reply to you and accidentally deleted it. Grr!

    What I want to say is that your issues with chronic muscle tension are very relatable.
    I think the book recommendation from your acupuncturist is a great thing to look into. I believe you mean "The Body Keeps The Score" by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.

    I have complex ptsd, and as a result I have problems with ocd and anxiety. I also have chronic muscle tension throughout my entire body, without any particular physical reason other than my body being kept in a chronic state of fight or flight when my c-ptsd is triggered.
    I know how frustrating and painful it can be to discover that the treatments of medical professionals help, but days later your body is back to being filled with tension. The recommended book and the works of Dr. Van der Kolk have really helped me to understand what is going on. I don't know if you have trauma, but even if you don't, I hope that the book will have meaning for you too.

    Take care!

  4. #4

    Re: Chronic muscle stiffness

    Thank you so much for your message, Wabus, and I am sorry to hear that you are also suffering. Yes, you are right - that is the book - and I have ordered it this morning.

    I am not aware that I have ptsd - that is a hard one to deal with. This has only come on in the last two months and, apart from the stiffness in the knee I can see no other start to it apart from being anxious about coming out of lockdown, family etc. etc. I do have a feeling of wanting to run away and live quietly somewhere - but that may be because we haven't had to be with crowds for the last year, really. All I know is that I now move like someone of at least 90 and doing anything is like trying to get through treacle.

    On an upward note, the neck and top of shoulders do feel a little easier this morning - so shall look forward to my next acupuncture session next week. If I can get the legs to move with more ease then the whole world would be different.

    I hope your journey becomes easier with time and thank you again for responding.

  5. #5

    Re: Chronic muscle stiffness

    One thing leads to another - so I went for a walk on 21st and the knee decided to come up like a balloon - lovely. Quite painful so next day rang the GP practice and was contacted by a trainee GP to discuss the problem. He booked me in to see him that afternoon and he diagnosed muscle and tendon strain in the knee. Plan: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and painkillers (Ibuprofen) regularly for 5 days, 3 x day. I've done three days and am on my fourth - I'm not a natural 'sitter', as my better half would tell you. However, I am trying. Interestingly I met a friend for breakfast (the first friend I have seen since October) and my muscles relaxed - just the knee was a bit of a pain. Next day they all tightened back up again. Neck is worst (apart from knee) and I now get electric shock moments when I move the neck and tingling suddenly shoots down to the fingers of both hands. This tells me that I have probably damaged my knee, but perhaps the rest is resistance - to change, to re-joining the human race, to facing the world again - to anxiety. One thing I won't do is get involved in crowded situations - I've always hated that. Let's see where we go from here ... acupuncture session tomorrow. I hope this might help someone.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013

    Re: Chronic muscle stiffness

    I have this too. So bad! My calfs and hamstrings are the worst. My partner has tried to massage them for me and said they're absolutely solid. They keep cramping too which is very painful. My shoulders neck and trapezium muscles are so sore and stiff too. I've been speaking to a psychologist and she says to consciously think about your muscles throughout the day and you'll notice what and when you're tensing. I realised I almost always have my jaw clenched, shoulders up high and clenching my legs! So I've been trying to make sure I unclench and relax my muscles as soon as I notice. Plus stretching helps. Bloody anxiety!

  7. #7

    Re: Chronic muscle stiffness

    I know LF87 - it's the devil, isn't it? I had my second acupuncture session today and the acupuncturist also did some cupping. Afterwards I felt very much more relaxed and was able to move better. I am hoping this will help to gradually ease off the tensing which we do unconsciously. It helps that the acupuncturist understands the nature of anxiety. If I felt anxious I would be able to understand it better but then if I feel anxious the body is usually OK - it's when I stop worrying that it moves to become more physical. I am tied to not doing much because of the knee and that will be a gradual process, so I'm revising the diet to fit a less mobile lifestyle for the moment.

    Do you have a college or university near you that teaches some of the alternative medicines, like acupuncture? It makes it more affordable and it helps the student as well. Mine will qualify this year and as she plans to practice locally I shall keep in touch with her for the future.

    I am having a look at the book that arrived, Wabus - it is very interesting but I didn't realise it comes in several volumes so I have only bought one. My acupuncturist is also interested and doesn't have this volume so I shall pass this one on to her when I have finished reading it. Life can't be easy with ptsd - wishing you the very best.

  8. #8

    Re: Chronic muscle stiffness

    Back to muscle stiffness this morning and moving at a snail's pace. Damn! However, I shall move as much as I can and try to ease things gradually. I am sure that the acupuncturist helped and will continue to do so. It may be a matter of time and doing as much as I am able. Getting out and about will make a difference, getting used to people again, getting study over and done with and so on. One thing at a time. I am trying not to strain the knee which is really what is holding everything back in my mind. Hard to exercise when you've been told to rest and ice the joint. Just wish all the other muscles and joints didn't feel the need to join in!

  9. #9

    Re: Chronic muscle stiffness

    Just an update - the stiffness comes and goes. The knee has a strained tendon. I had another acupuncture session on Tuesday and felt worse immediately afterwards and then the stiffness eased for the rest of the day and the next!! Last night I had my second Covid vaccine and this morning I am as stiff as ever. I doubt the two things are related. I am getting fed up with not being able to have a daily walk and the lack of freedom that I feel within my body, but there is little I can do as I need to rest the tendon. Patience is a virtue that I am having to develop. It feels as though lockdown is easing but I now have a lockdown of my own. Do let me know if anyone else is experiencing the same thing.

  10. #10

    Re: Chronic muscle stiffness

    Another very brief update and I'm sorry if I am boring people. The stiffness is particularly noticeable this morning, particularly on the left side. The site of covid injection is bruised and I can't lift that arm very much - the muscle at the side starts screaming. The hips are stiff and it took me ages to do a short walk (I can't sit still for ever). Thinking back, this stiffness began to develop very gradually after the first jab - before that I was feeling very fit and had been hill walking etc. It gradually got worse and I did have a stressful period as well as I said. However, it was just beginning to ease when I had the second one on Wednesday and here we are tight again. So, I've called the GP and they will take some bloods to check for inflammation but she seemed to think the jab and the stiffness could be related. Let's see what's next. I suppose this could mean another month of doddering around while they ease off again - better that, though, than anything else.
    Last edited by Joystick; 07-05-21 at 12:37. Reason: added words

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