Myofascial Pain Syndrome

What is Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Myofascial Pain Syndrome involves the pressure of sensitive points on the muscles and it is a chronic pain disorder. The points where pain occurs do not seem to be related and they call this referred pain. It can be the result of repetitive action that comes from certain jobs or some hobbies. While most people have this kind of pain to a certain degree, with myofascial pain syndrome it gets worse over time.

What are the Symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Myofascial pain syndrome is characterized by aching pain deep in the muscle that gets worse or lasts for a long time. It can feel like a tender knot in the muscle and can cause problems sleeping because of the pain. If you have muscle pain that persists, even after things like massage or rest, you should see your doctor.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome Causes

This type of pain can be caused by putting too much strain on a muscle. It can also be strain put on a group of muscles or on a tendon or ligament. If a muscle injury has occurred, this can also cause this syndrome. A number of other actions and conditions can cause these pain symptoms. If the patient has general fatigue, an intervertebral disc injury, engages in repetitive motions or has had irritation of the stomach or a heart attack, this can cause myofascial pain syndrome to develop. If the patient has been sedentary and unable to move, such as having a broken bone that has been immobilized, this syndrome can cause pain.

Many different types of injuries and strains can cause this condition to develop and create trigger points of pain. Constant muscle stress in one area can lead to these trigger points. For people who experience anxiety and stress, this syndrome is more likely to develop. This is believed to happen because those under stress may clench their muscles tightly and put them under strain. Having poor posture is another risk factor.

How is Myofascial Pain Syndrome Treated?

There are three types of treatment that doctors may recommend for myofascial pain syndrome: medication, therapy, or needle procedures. The type of treatment recommended is often just the preference of the doctor that is treating you.

Medications can include sedatives, pain relievers, or antidepressants. Sedatives can be offered to help relax the muscles. Pain relievers, both prescription and over-the-counter medications, help to deal with the pain. Some antidepressants actually are helpful in relieving pain and they can help you sleep, as well.

Physical therapy can include things like massage or heat or it can make use of stretching and posture training (exercises to improve posture). Ultrasound may increase blood circulation with sound waves, which can help muscles heal.

Several types of needle procedures have been helpful in relieving pain from myofascial pain syndrome. Dry needling is a procedure in which a need without medication is inserted into and around the trigger point. Sometimes this is enough to break the tension in the muscle. A steroid or a numbing agent may also be used. Acupuncture, similar to dry needling, has also been successful for some people.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome Prevention

Not all episodes of myofascial pain syndrome can be prevented, but it may be possible for some patients to prevent or ease some flare-ups. Practicing better posture can help in prevention. Losing excess weight is another way to prevent and ease symptoms. Get regular exercise and eat a balanced, healthy diet to feel better and experience fewer episodes. If you are under stress, learn about ways to manage that stress so that it doesn’t result in these physical symptoms. When engaging in physical exercise or when playing sports, be sure to use warm-up exercises and stretches to avoid any muscle injuries. At work, avoid too many repetitive motions to prevent strain on the muscles that can create trigger points of pain.

Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
March 12, 2018