Myofascial Pain


This is a chronic pain disorder in which pressure on trigger points causes pain in the muscle and other parts of the body. This syndrome typically occurs after a muscle has been contracted repetitively; its causes include repetitive motions used in occupations or hobbies or stress-related muscle tension. Sensitive areas of tight muscle fibers, also known as trigger points, can form in the muscles after injuries or overuse. Myofascial pain syndrome can involve a single muscle or a larger muscle group. In some cases, the area where pain is felt may not be the source of myofascial pain (called referred pain).

Myofascial pain might develop from a muscle injury or from excessive strain on a particular muscle or muscle group, ligament, or tendon. Stress and anxiety can result in clenched muscles that may develop into trigger points. Other causes include injury to intervertebral discs, general fatigue, repetitive motions, other medical conditions such as a heart attack or stomach irritation, and lack of activity. Symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome may include deep, aching pain in a muscle; pain that persists or worsens; a tender knot in a muscle; and trouble sleeping due to pain. In addition, people with the disorder also can suffer from depression, fatigue, and behavioral disturbances.

The diagnosis of myofascial pain involves a physical exam during which your doctor may apply pressure to the painful area to identify the trigger points (or knots in the muscle), which will be noticed if pressing on the affected area elicits a response such as a muscle twitch.  

Treatment can include medications such as pain relievers, antidepressants, and sedatives. Physical therapy can also be beneficial and includes stretching, posture training, massage, and ultrasounds, a type of therapy that uses sound waves to increase blood circulation and warmth to the area to promote healing. Trigger point injections may also be recommended to decrease muscle spasms.

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