What is Myofascial Pain Syndrome? 

This syndrome is a chronic pain disorder that originates in the musculoskeletal system. When people first develop Myofascial Pain Syndrome it usually goes away on its own, but in serious cases, it can persist for a while. People with this syndrome have sensitive trigger points in their bodies where even a light touch can elicit painful symptoms. The fascia is the taut bands of the muscles and when pressure is applied on the trigger points located here, one feels an immense amount of pain. This kind of pain is also called referred pain.

What Are the Symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

The symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome include:

  • Sharp pain in the particular localized area of the muscles 
  • Pain that is sensitive to touch 
  • Pain in the muscle that worsens over time and does not improve with self-care and at-home therapies
  • Painful knots in the muscles form that produces pain limited to one particular area or referred pain 
  • Muscular weakness and stiffness 
  • Reduced range of motion 
  • Difficulty in sleeping 

How Is Myofascial Pain Different from Fibromyalgia?

Sometimes people confuse myofascial pain with fibromyalgia as the symptoms may be overlapping. However, fibromyalgia causes widespread muscle pain and can be felt through the entire length of the body while myofascial pain can only be felt in one area of the body, localized deep in the affected muscles, which is why its symptoms are localized. It can only be felt in some particular group of muscles like the jaw, back, and neck. MPS originates in the fascia-that is in the taut bands of the muscles which have trigger points that cause muscle pain, while fibromyalgia has multiple trigger points spread all over the body.

Causes of Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Trigger points of MPS often are a result of risk factors due to genetic and lifestyle vulnerabilities. They are as follows: 

  • Sedentary lifestyle and prolonged periods of sitting and standing 
  • Incorrect posture 
  • An improper diet deficient of important nutrients 
  • Lack of exercise and movement 
  • Injury to the vertebrae or disks 
  • Unhealthy sleep 
  • Hormonal changes brought on by menopause or pregnancy
  • Intense cooling of muscles due to exposure to an AC 
  • Obesity 
  • Smoking 

What Are the Trigger Points of MPS (Myofascial Pain Syndrome)?

To accurately diagnose your MPS (Myofascial Pain Syndrome) your doctor will perform a physical exam to identify your MPS trigger points. Whenever your doctor presses these specific trigger points, there will be a twitch in the muscle.

There are various kinds of trigger points which are: 

  • Active trigger points are those which are the primary sources of muscular pain, and are quite tender. They twitch when touched. They are also quite painful when any sort of pressure is applied to them. 
  • Latent Trigger Points are those which remain dormant for years and become active due to an activating event of pain and trauma.
  • Satellite Trigger Point- These trigger points are painful because they are located near active trigger points.

Also Read: How Poor Posture Causes Neck Pain

How Can You Treat MPS (Myofascial Pain Syndrome)?

Myofascial Pain can be treated with a diverse combination of treatment plans and therapies which include:

  • Medication
    NSAIDS to reduce inflammation, OTC drugs to relieve immediate pain and swelling. Muscle relaxers can be used to reduce muscle spasms near the neck. 
  • Dry Needling
    This is a technique that considerably helps to inactivate the trigger points. The doctor places a needle in the trigger point and prongs it around. This technique is quite painful but it helps a lot to reduce your painful symptoms in the longer run. You can also try acupuncture instead of dry needling to help with the pain, but dry-needling and acupuncture are quite different therapeutic techniques. 
  • Injections
    These injections are specifically designed for trigger points but only a solution is injected into the tissue. These need to be injected with an anesthetic and the effects can be compared with dry needling and are much less painful. 
  • Ultrasound
    USG machines help transmit sound waves to the muscles that help to relax the muscles by providing heat and blood flow to the area. This helps reduce stiffness and can help you regain functionality. This method’s positive effects are quite noticeable with rheumatoid arthritis. 
  • Massage Therapies
    Sometimes the stress of our work-life, coupled the constant staring at the screen can make things worse for our neck pain. Therapeutic techniques like massage therapies work well to soothe our affected muscles, relieve pent-up stress and reduce spasms. Massages also work wonders to reduce pain and create an environment of relaxation. Make sure you get a specialized therapist to work on your target areas so you get effective treatments and visible changes after a session.
  • Physiotherapy for Neck Pain
    A popular method for treatment of neck pain, physiotherapy  is a non-invasive, drug-free, and flexible treatment option that works at the root of the problem. It helps with alleviating your short-term painful symptoms and also in preventing neck pain in the long run. Physiotherapy for neck pain includes a diverse range of options that range from postural correction to manual therapies.  Physiotherapy also recommends some exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home so that you can work actively to prevent the manifestation of this pain in the long run. Physiotherapists also work alongside your trainer so that your workouts do not include movements that aggravate the painful symptoms. 
  • Stretches
    If you work for long hours on the laptop, you might be getting a sore or stiff neck. You can prevent this by performing easy neck stretches and range of motion exercises between breaks that help stretch and release tension. These also help regain flexibility and help maintain range of motion. If you are leading a sedentary lifestyle, then incorporating more physical exercises- whether it is walking, playing a sport, dancing- helps promote muscle strength that can help keep neck pain at bay. 
  • Ergonomic Work Surroundings
    Make sure that your work surrounding is ergonomic and gentle to your body. Get a laptop leveler that helps keep it in an elevated position. Get a sturdy chair with guaranteed lumbar support that can support your spine during long hours of work. Use a laptop bag or a work bag that is not too bulky and that comes with adjustable and padded shoulder straps that help you carry the weight evenly. 
  • Maintaining a Good Posture
    A good posture is a great step towards squashing painful symptoms of neck pain. While working, we often slouch and maintain a crooked posture that causes the muscles in our back and neck to become weak and tight. A crooked posture can also put unnecessary strain on your spine causing the muscled in the neck and back to hurt. Whenever you are sitting to work or read, make sure that your neck is in a neutral position and keep your eyes level to anything that is you are looking at. This helps put less pressure on your spine. 
  • Self-Care Techniques
    A great way to kickstart your recovery is getting a personal massager that can heal your MPS symptoms through therapuetic pulsating vibrations. It  can also be  treated with ice and heat compressions. To correct your posture and ensure the correct sleeping position at night, you can change your pillows, and get supportive equipment that will enable you to sleep well.

Also Read: When to See a Doctor for Neck Pain

Phyt Health is India’s first digital physiotherapy platform using 3D Imaging and Artificial Intelligence to accurately capture your movements and recommend relevant treatment plans. On the physiotherapy app, you will find a wealth of exercises that are curated by expert physiotherapists that you can perform in the comfort of your own home.
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