Myofascial Pain Syndrome is a chronic disorder characterized by diffuse pain in many regions of the body. This condition can arise from many circumstances, such as trauma, a stressful situation, or even a seemingly small injury such as an episode of neck pain. Myofascial pain syndrome is marked by widespread trigger points, which are exquisitely tender spots found in muscle. Trigger points can lead to pain both close to the area of the trigger point or in a referred pain region a distance from the trigger point. While most people have experienced muscle soreness or tenderness from time to time, MPS is more serious. It can be persistent, debilitating, and frequently requires professional treatment to manage.
An excellent source for detailed information on the causes of trigger points can be found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3440564/. Trigger points can result from trauma or muscle overuse. Muscle overuse involves repetitive muscle contraction. For example, when a person holds their head in bent position to read a book for a prolonged period of time, the muscles in the back of the neck are continuously working to maintain this posture. This type of activity can lead to the formation of trigger points.
Symptoms & Diagnosis
People with myofascial pain syndrome may have difficulty sitting still or standing for long periods of time. They may also experience fatigue, sleep disturbance, anxiety and/or depression, and impaired memory or other cognitive function. Physical therapists are trained in how to look for and identify trigger points throughout the body to assist in the diagnosis of myofascial pain syndrome.
Treatment for Myofascial Pain Syndrome may include:
- Manual therapy, including Dry Needling, manual trigger point release, and fascial manipulation
- Modalities, such as therapeutic heat
- Pharmacologic approaches
- Multidisciplinary approaches that include multiple care providers including doctors, psychotherapists, and healing arts practitioners
- Activities aimed at relaxation, such as meditation