Self-care behaviors for muscle pain

Erin A. Dannecker, Christine M. Gagnon, Rebecca L. Jump, Jennifer L. Brown, Michael E. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This investigation examined self-care behaviors for muscle pain because of the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and the substitution of self-care for formal medical care. In Study 1, university students (N = 187) completed a retrospective questionnaire about self-care for muscle pain. In Study 2, muscle pain was experimentally induced in university students (N = 79) with subsequent measurement of self-care. In both studies, stretching and massaging were the most frequently performed behaviors, and consuming medication was the least frequently performed. In Study 1, the perceived effectiveness of behaviors and level of pain required to perform self-care accounted for 12% to 32% of the variance in behavior frequency. In Study 2, pain ratings and pain during activities were higher among those who performed self-care (ds =. 59 to 1.00). These studies indicated that self-care behaviors are performed for both naturally occurring and experimentally induced muscle pain. However, both studies determined that the performance of self-care behaviors did not always correspond with current evidence of treatment effectiveness for muscle injuries. Unique opportunities for future investigations of self-care behavior models and interventions are permitted by muscle pain induction. Self-care for pain reduction is an understudied behavior. This report describes 2 studies of self-care behaviors for naturally occurring and experimentally induced muscle pain. The most frequent types of self-care behaviors are similar for the types of pain, and the perceived effectiveness of behaviors and pain level influence performance of the behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-527
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Self-management
  • delayed-onset muscle soreness
  • self-treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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