What is Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
Myofascial pain syndrome is muscle pain due to injury or damage to the fascia, which is the soft stretchy connective tissue that surrounds muscles and organs. It can lead to chronic pain in the muscles throughout the body, especially in the neck, and upper back. Many patients develop trigger points as a consequence of myofascial pain syndrome. Trigger points are tight bands of muscle that can be felt as painful bumps under the skin. Trigger points are very tender when touched, and can refer pain to other areas of the body.
What are the causes?
There are no known causes for myofascial pain syndrome, but it has been associated with overwork and repetitive straining of the muscles. Skeletal abnormalities such as joint degeneration may lead to myofascial pain syndrome as well. It is suspected that myofascial pain syndrome can work in conjunction with other disorders such as depression and anxiety, to cause flare-ups of pain.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can range from dull, achy pain to throbbing, stabbing pain over the muscles. Patients may feel burning sensations at times. The pain may be felt throughout the body, or located over trigger points. Trigger points may be found in any muscle. They are most common in the neck and upper back. Associated symptoms can include popping sounds or limited range of motion of joints, numbness, headaches, weakness, problems with balance, and visual and hearing changes.
What treatments are available?
Treatment options may include anti-inflammatory medications, pain medications, massage, physical therapy, and trigger point injections. It is very important that patients maintain a regular exercise program to help reduce pain and prevent flare-ups of pain.