Myofascial Pain Syndrome
A type of chronic muscle pain, myofascial pain syndrome refers to inflammation and pain in soft tissues that cover the muscles. The syndrome may occur after the contraction of a muscle from an injury or strained muscle group, tendon, or ligament. The symptoms may be felt in a single muscle or a group of muscles.
Stress, injury to muscle fiber, poor sleep patterns/habits, repetitive motions, and depression are some of the risk factors of myofascial pain syndrome. The symptoms may get worse with increased stress or activity.
Other causes include:
- Herniated discs
- Injury to intervertebral disc
- Damage to musculoskeletal tissues from trauma
- Overuse of unconditioned muscles
- Heavy and incorrect lifting
- Medical conditions, including stomach irritation, heart attack, or gall bladder problems
- Immobilization of a leg or arm
- Hormonal changes
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Prolonged exposure to cold
Those affected with the disorder may also suffer from fatigue, depression, and behavioral disturbances.
Your physician may consider the site of pain and tenderness during physical exam to diagnose myofascial pain syndrome. The syndrome is more common with women and people between the age of 20 and 40 years. Those with a sedentary lifestyle are also susceptible to this syndrome.
When pressure is applied on certain areas of the body, it can help identify the “trigger” or “tender” points that cause pain. There are primarily four types of trigger points associated with myofascial pain syndrome:
- Active trigger point – The part of the body lying within the skeletal muscle, where you experience extreme tenderness and pain.
- Latent trigger point – The dormant area where you experience weakness or restricted movement. This inactive part may act like a trigger point.
Symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Spasm, pain, inflammation, and tenderness are some of the symptoms associated with the syndrome. The patient experiences
- localized pain, tenderness, or spasm in the upper/ lower back and neck
- disturbed sleep patterns
- daytime fatigue
- stiffness after long rest
Stress reduction therapies, behavioral therapy, stretching and exercise programs, sleep improvement therapy are some of the treatment techniques of myofascial pain syndrome. Treatment may also include prescription medications, physical therapy, or trigger point injections. Medications may include pain killers, sedatives, and antidepressants. No one therapy can offer full relief from the symptoms.
Severe cases may require a combination of physical therapy, posture training, massage therapy, and medications.