Myofascial pain is a chronic pain condition in which pressure on sensitive or trigger points in the muscle causes pain. This pain, known as referred pain, is often felt in parts of the body seemingly unrelated to the origination area. Myofascial pain is most often caused by repetitive contracting of a muscle (spasm). It often expresses itself after repetitive motions used daily in job-related tasks or stress-related muscle tension.
Warning Signs & Symptoms
Myofascial pain differs from temporary muscle tension pain which is often relieved by self-care. Symptoms include:
- Persistent aching pain in a muscle
- Interrupted sleep due to severe pain
- Noticeable knot in the muscle
Risk Factors & Possible Causes
Myofascial pain is the product of muscle sensitivity caused by injury or overuse. The sensitive area in the muscle, known as the trigger point, is comprised of tight muscle fibers generating the deep pain felt throughout the muscle.
Because myofascial pain is caused by the tightening of a muscle, it is commonly associated with a muscle strain or stress and anxiety. People who perform repetitive motions, have poor posture or frequently experience stress are more susceptible to developing myofascial pain.
Tests to Diagnose Myofascial Pain
Physicians will press on the muscle causing the pain to assess its tightness. This pressure may cause the muscle to twitch or spasm. If, after feeling the affected area, the physician believes the pain to have another cause, other tests may be recommended.
Myofascial pain is managed through medication, injections or physical therapy. Pain relievers, anti-depressants and sedatives can all have pain- relieving effects and can be recommended for myofascial pain.
Needle procedures are also useful in treating muscle pain. Along with injecting steroids or a local anesthetics to the area, dry needling or acupuncture can also prove effective in relieving myofascial pain. It is believed that just inserting a needle into the affected area can decrease muscle tension associated with myofascial syndrome.
Physical therapy is another useful method for relieving pain. Stretching, posture training, applying heat and massage are gentle exercises the help ease muscle pain.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RF) has also been found to decrease pain associated with muscle spasm/peripheral neuropathy.