Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is a condition that affects the body's soft tissues or muscles. Myofascial pain syndrome can affect individual muscles or muscle groups.
In myofascial pain syndrome, stimulation of sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) can generate pain in other members of the muscle group, or indeed, in remote parts of the body. This is known as referred pain
Myofascial pain syndrome usually happens when a muscle or muscle group has been contracted repetitively, such as in repetitive motions associated with jobs or hobbies or by stress-related muscle tension.
In the modern society, time spent at a computer terminal, or hunched over tablets or mobile phones can exacerbate myofascial pain. This tends to generate pain in the trapezius and cervical para-spinal groups of muscles
Pain associated with muscle tension is very common. However, myofascial pain syndrome tends to be persistent, and indeed, can worsen.
What are the symptoms of myofascial pain?
Myofascial pain tends to be found in the muscles of the neck, back and shoulders. The pain is associated with trigger points that tend to follow fairly predictable patterns. The pain tends to be aggravated with repetitive activity or anxiety and stress. Myofascial pain can also be associated with other conditions such as depression, fatigue, and behavioural disturbances.
How is Myofascial Pain Treated?
Your chronic pain specialist will make a full assessment of your pain and give you a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
Remove the Source of the Pain
Correcting and removing chronic factors associated with myofascial pain, including poor posture, poor workstation ergonomics, repetitive motion, chronic anxiety, stress and sleep disorders is vital in the over-all management of myofascial pain.
One of the first lines of treatment for deactivation of trigger points is the muscle stretch techniques which should be followed by functional training or exercise to maintain pain relief and to prevent further development of trigger points.
Your pain specialist with have access to physiotherapists, experiences in dealing with this sort of pain, and will be able to refer you if necessary.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, tricyclic antidepressants (TCA’s) and simple analgesics are frequently prescribed for this condition. Topically applied NSAIDs may also be effective, whilst having less side effects. Capsaicin is another topically applied drug that can be effective for this condition.
Trigger point Injections
Injections are not typically considered a long term solution for this type of pain, but can provide short term benefit (3-6 months) in order to allow a ‘window of opportunity’ to facilitate physical therapies.
Trigger point injections with cortisone or botulinum toxin can effectively inactivate myofascial trigger points. Directed at loosening the taut band, trigger point injections provide rapid symptomatic relief, allowing more effective physiotherapy.
What Other Musculoskeletal Pains Can I Get Treatment For?
There are a number of other musculoskeletal pains that your chronic pain specialist can offer advice and treatment for, including
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