Almost all of us have experienced muscle pain at some point. Mostly, muscle pain goes away on its own after a few days or weeks. Yet, in some cases, the pain persists and gets worse. Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain syndrome where pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain and sometimes even in unrelated parts of your body.
Read on to know what myofascial pain syndrome is and what are the treatment options for it.
About Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Myofascial pain syndrome is chronic muscle pain. It affects fascia, which is the connective tissue covering muscles.
A person with myofascial pain syndrome may have pain in either one muscle or a muscle group. This may cause repetitive motions of the muscle or even stress-related muscle tension.
What are the symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome?
A person suffering from myofascial pain syndrome may suffer from the following symptoms:
- Muscle aches
- Deep pain in muscles
- Worsening pain when affected muscle is strained or stretched
- Tender and painful knots in the muscle
- Difficulty in sleeping with the pain
- Weak, inflexible, and stiff muscles
- Muscle pain that worsens and does not improve with time
- Limited range of motion of muscles
- Mood swings
- Sleep and behavioral disturbances
What causes myofascial pain syndrome?
Excessive strain or muscle injury on a muscle or muscle group can cause myofascial pain syndrome. Such injuries can lead to sensitive areas of tight muscle fiber known as trigger points, where the myofascial pain syndrome develops.
Complications linked to myofascial pain syndrome may include:
- Sleep problems
- Fibromyalgia: In some people, myofascial pain syndrome can develop into fibromyalgia. Over time, the brain of individuals with fibromyalgia become more sensitive to pain signals.
When to see a doctor?
Most muscle pain resolves on its own. If this does not happen in your case, make an appointment and visit a doctor. Your doctor will conduct a physical exam and use certain techniques to assess the pain. After the diagnosis of myofascial pain syndrome, the doctor will recommend a suitable treatment.
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What are the treatment options for myofascial pain syndrome?
The treatment options available for myofascial pain syndrome are medications, physical therapy, and trigger point injection. The cure is possible with one or a combination of treatments. However, exercise or physical therapy is one of the vital factors that can improve the condition along with any treatment. Discuss the treatment options and your preferences with your doctor to figure out the suitable option.
Doctors may suggest pain relievers, sedatives, or antidepressants alleviate your muscle pain. This is the best option when the condition is not severe.
If you visit a physical therapist, they will prepare a treatment plan based on your symptoms. In most cases, the myofascial pain syndrome physical therapy involves the following:
- Posture training
- Ultrasound therapy
Trigger point injection
In this procedure, the doctor injects a numbing agent or steroid into the trigger point, which alleviates the pain.
Apart from the numbing agents, many people can get relief from dry needling as well. Dry needling is when the doctor inserts a dry injection into trigger points. It breaks up muscle tension.
Another option to treat myofascial pain syndrome is acupuncture.
Living with myofascial pain syndrome can be challenging. The chronic pain in muscles limits the day-to-day movements. You can manage myofascial pain syndrome with a set of treatment options depending on the severity of your pain. It is advisable not to panic or feel discouraged when one treatment does not work for you. Myofascial pain syndrome can also be cured with some changes in lifestyle and a combination of treatments.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the risk factors that can enhance myofascial pain syndrome?
Muscle tightness often leads to myofascial pain syndrome. However, the following are the risk factors that can enhance it:
- Muscle injury: In most cases, muscle injury is the main factor responsible for myofascial pain syndrome. Acute or continual muscle injury develops trigger points that further develop chronic muscle pain.
- Anxiety & Stress: Studies have shown that people with anxiety and stress are more likely to develop trigger points which may cause myofascial pain syndrome.
How can lifestyle changes help in treating myofascial pain syndrome?
Lifestyle changes can actually help you relieve the pain associated with myofascial pain syndrome. Self-care can make it easy for you to fight the condition. You may also consider regular exercise, timely relaxation, a healthy diet, and a disciplined sleep schedule.