2 Apr 2019
Understanding Myofascial Pain
2 Apr 2019
By: Dr. Shannon Bloch, DC
Very few people go through life without at least a few episodes of muscle pain. Myofascial pain (pain from the muscles or fascia of the body) is extremely common and results from either acute muscle injury (a fall, accident, sports injury etc.), overuse of muscles or repetitive strain. Usually this type of pain will resolve within a few weeks- but if not, it is classified as myofascial pain syndrome.
Trigger points are key characteristics of myofascial pain syndrome and there are 2 types: active or latent. Trigger points are focal areas of tightness and tenderness within a muscle. An active one creates constant pain which increases when the muscle is contracted or stretched and can cause pain that refers to other areas of the body. For example: active trigger points in the upper back and shoulder can create pain in the elbow or wrist or a trigger point in the base of the neck can cause pain or the feeling of a headache over the eye. Latent trigger points are areas of tightness and tenderness that do not result in spontaneous pain but can restrict range of motion in nearby joints.
Tension headaches, low back pain, neck pain, TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), forearm, wrist and hand pain, postural pain and many other musculoskeletal conditions are usually all associated with trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome. Any condition where a deep aching pain with associated stiffness should be considered myofascial in nature.
Fortunately, myofascial pain responds extremely well to conservative treatment. Effective management of myofascial pain involves a combination of the following:
- Muscle work: this can be done using multiple different techniques and should be done by a knowledgeable health care provider
- Stretching: the muscles involved in myofascial pain are usually shortened and stretching allows them to regain their proper length
- Strengthening: muscles that experience prolonged pain and injury can become weak causing other muscle groups to compensate, proper recovery requires strengthening the inhibited and weak muscles
- Postural and ergonomic factors: to address the predisposing factors of the condition and prevent reoccurrence
In summary; myofascial pain is extremely common and usually very quickly and effectively treated. If you experiencing myofascial pain it is best to see a health care provider who treats musculoskeletal injuries sooner rather than later to prevent the pain from increasing and get you back pain free.
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Image: Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash
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