Knots vs. Adhesions – What’s the Difference

While the terms “knots” and “adhesions” are often used interchangeably, they refer to slightly different concepts in the context of muscles and soft tissues.

Differences between Knot and Adhesion

  • Palpability – knots are often palpable and can be felt as lumps or nodules within the muscle. Adhesions may not always be palpable on the surface and may require deeper assessment.
  • Location – muscle knots are typically located within the muscle itself, while adhesions can form between different layers of soft tissues, such as muscle and fascia. Adhesions can form between different layers of soft tissues, potentially restricting their normal movement and causing discomfort. For example, adhesions may develop between muscle fibers, limiting the flexibility of the muscle.
  • Cause –  knots are often associated with muscle overuse, strain, or tension. Adhesions are more likely to develop as a result of injury, surgery, or chronic inflammation.


“Muscle knots” is a colloquial term used to describe areas of tightness or tension within a muscle. These knots often feel like palpable, sensitive nodules or lumps in the muscle tissue.

Cause of Knots

Muscle knots are commonly associated with muscle fibers that have contracted and failed to release. They can result from factors such as overuse, muscle strain, poor posture, or stress.

Formation of Knots

Formation: When muscle fibers contract and remain in a shortened state, they can create localized areas of tension. These tense muscle fibers can lead to the formation of palpable knots.

To find out more about Knots See: What are Muscle KNOTS?


Adhesions refer to fibrous bands of scar tissue that form between layers of soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, or organs. Unlike knots, adhesions may not always be palpable on the surface of the skin.

Cause of Adhesions

Adhesions typically result from the healing process after injury, surgery, or inflammation. The body forms scar tissue as part of the natural healing response, and when this tissue binds adjacent structures together, adhesions can develop.

Formation of Adhesions

Adhesions form when fibers within the connective tissue become bound together, creating bands of tissue that may limit the normal movement of muscles or joints. Adhesions typically develop as part of the body’s natural healing process in response to injury, inflammation, or surgery. When tissue is damaged, the body lays down collagen fibers to repair and strengthen the affected area. If these fibers become excessive or disorganized, they can create adhesions.

To find out more adhesions, see What Are Adhesions?