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Knots in Back: Causes and Treatment Options

Have you ever felt a tightness in your back or neck that just won’t go away? You may be feeling what are known as knots. These knots, also referred to as “muscle knots” or “trigger points,” are areas of tension and tightness in the muscle fibers. To make matters worse, they can cause pain and discomfort that may interfere with daily activities.

What Causes Knots in Your Back?

Knots are often caused by tension, stress, or overuse of the muscles. This can occur when engaging in everyday activities such as sitting for long periods of time, exercising, sleeping in an awkward position or lifting something heavy. In some cases, knots can also be caused by injury or illness.

What Do Knots Feel Like?

Knots typically feel like a tight band of muscle or a lump in the back. They can cause pain that radiates throughout the body and, sometimes, tenderness to the touch. Knots can also lead to other symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and difficulty moving.

Treatment Options for Knots

In most cases, knots go away on their own without the need for medical intervention. However, if you experience chronic or worsening back pain, it’s best to seek medical attention.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for knots, there are a variety of home remedies and professional treatments available to help provide relief.


One of the easiest and most effective ways to relieve muscle tension is through stretching. Gentle stretches that target the affected area may help relax tight muscles, improve flexibility and reduce pain.

Knots are often the result of failing to stretch after working out or engaging in strenuous activities. Therefore, making a point to stretch after exercising may help prevent knots from forming in the first place.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can be beneficial in relieving knots by reducing tension in the muscles and aiding blood flow throughout the body. Regular massage sessions with a certified therapist may help bring about lasting relief from back pain and discomfort caused by knots.

Heat Therapy

Applying heat to the affected area may help relax the tight muscles that cause knots in the back. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as hot baths or showers, warm compresses and heated pads. Heat therapy may also provide some muscle relaxation and help improve blood circulation.

Knots, or Something More?

Knots can be uncomfortable and can interfere with daily activities, but there are a variety of treatment options available to help provide relief. If you experience chronic or worsening back pain, it may be time to consult with your doctor or a qualified medical professional.

Hooman Melamed, MD, FAAOS, is a top orthopedic spine surgeon and sports medicine specialist who can help diagnose and treat back pain. If you have back pain that hasn’t responded to traditional treatments, contact Dr. Melamed today to schedule an appointment.