There is way more to aches and pains than many people realise! For example there is pain caused by broken bones, pain in joints (arthritis), pain in muscles, tendons and ligaments, referred pain, nerve pain and so on.
Sadly, the average GP doesn't understand much about pain in the muscles. The reason is they carve up cadavers to learn about the muscles. However, it does not teach them about muscle pain or trigger points.
Trigger points are an example of referred pain:
Trigger points are irritated areas in muscles that send so many pain signals to the nervous system that the system is overloaded, and you actually feel the pain elsewhere (referred pain). The trigger point itself may not feel sore except when you press on it.
Consider a piece of elastic. Tie several knots in it, and it will be shorter than it was before and it wont stretch as far.
Muscles are similar. Trigger points are like knots that are no longer stretching or shortening, so the muscles are shorter and tighter than before.
Trigger points often are responsible for causing dull aches over a broad area, but can also cause other symptoms such as goose bumps, tingling, pins and needles etc. Pain killers simply mask the symptoms. Trigger point therapy deals with the cause!
Another effect of tight muscles is that they can be squashing nerves and causing sharper nerve pain. It can go in a cycle. Where there is nerve pain, the muscles try to guard and protect the area and they do so by tightening up, which means they are pressing down even more on the nerve making the problems worse.
Visit a GP complaining of muscular pain and the chances are you will be prescribed some painkillers and antiinflammatories. Only about 2 of the 65 GPs in Rockingham recommend remedial massage to their clients.
Sadly some really have no idea about the benefits of remedial massage, and most do not live in the area so would have no idea who the best qualified remedial masseurs are anyway!
A typical example of this is the network of suboccipital muscles at the base of the rear of the cranium. You may not be aware of any pain in this area, but you can definitely feel the headaches that result!
Other muscles which can mislead diagnosis are the scalene muscles and the sternocleidomastoid muscles. The scalene muscles, which elevate the ribs during breathing, refer pain to a multitude of places. Many carpel tunnel operations have been performed when the real cause was trigger points in the scalene muscles. The reason the scalene muscles cause many misdiagnoses is that they don't cause you to feel any pain in the scalene muscles themselves, they only refer pain elsewhere
The sternocleidomastoid muscles help turn your head or lift your head when lying down face up; they are the big muscles at the front of the neck. They refer pain as headaches and contribute to jaw pain, earache, dizziness and sinus problems. As for the scalenes, they are often hard to identify as the cause as they don't cause you pain in the muscle itself, except if you press on the active trigger points.
Sciatic nerve pain can be caused by compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower back, on exit from the sacrum or, in many cases by a tight piriformis muscle, a muscle deep under your gluteus maximus (in your butt, to use the vernacular!). I have had good success in relieving sciatic nerve pain when caused by a tight piriformis. This can be due to sitting on a wallet for years, or, if the pain is in the right leg, from hours spent driving.
Nerve pains are also common in the arms. There are several places where the compression occurs, such as the carpal tunnel, the elbow, at the attachment of the pectoralis minor muscle, where it passes between the first rib and the clavicle (thoracic outlet syndrome), and where the brachial plexus nerves exit from the cervical spine only to be compressed by tight scalene muscles. There are a number of tests I perform to find out which nerve is being compressed, eg medial, radial or ulnar nerve, and where the compression is occurring. There are strategies for relieving the compression at each of the likely points.
So there you go, remedial massage can in many cases relieve nerve pain without a visit to a neurologist or a surgeon!
There are many Over The Counter options available at chemists which can alleviate pain. Some are aimed at muscles, others joints, some at both. Some are called rubefacients. They irritate the skin making the body less aware of the underlying pain, and reduce the supply of Substance P in the area. Substance P is a chemical which causes pain. One such product is Percutane, which has capsicum as a major ingredient. Herbal pain relievers include Arnica cream or Aloe vera.
There is also the universal remedy Tiger Balm!
Voltaren is specifically aimed at joint pain usually caused by arthritis. However, beware the side effects. Prolonged use of Voltaren can increase the risk of life-threatening problems with the heart or circulation such as heart attack or stroke.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are produced in the body so taking these as supplements for troublesome joints will have fewer side effects.
There are two types of pain relief patches, those which contain drugs and those that don't!
An example of a transdermal patch that needs to be prescribed contains the drug Fentanyl which is released into the body over 72 hours.
Lifewave patches do not use drugs to relieve pain. You can think of it in a couple of ways. Sunlight sends waves which produce Vitamin D and gives you a suntan. Also if you have 20 tuning forks, if you set one off, they all start vibrating. The proteins in the patches break down due to your body heat just as when you fry an egg the proteins break down, so the pain patches last for around 12 hours. I have had several clients in pain who I could not help (I am not Jesus!), but the pain patches did the job instead. I am a distributor of these patches.