Myofascial Pain Syndrome

A chronic pain disorder affecting the body’s soft tissues and muscle trigger points, myofascial pain syndrome differs from muscle tension pain in that the pain persists or worsens over time. Myofascial pain syndrome is characterized by referred pain, which is when pressure on muscle trigger points cause pain in seemingly unrelated parts of the body. Symptoms include persistent and/or worsening aching, deep pain, knots in muscles, and pain so bothersome that it’s difficult to sleep. The syndrome develops from muscle injury; lack of muscle activity; repetitive motion of strain to muscle(s), ligament(s), and/or tendon(s); and stress and anxiety. In some individuals, myofascial pain syndrome can develop into fibromyalgia. Typically, with muscle pain, one’s best bet is to get rest, ice the area, apply compression, and elevate the area if possible. However, if pain worsens or persists even after self-care, then it’s important to seek medical attention. Diagnosis involves pinpointing active and latent trigger points and applying pressure to determine the degree of pain and tenderness. Physical therapy is a common treatment for myofascial pain syndrome and may involve myofascial release therapy, spraying the muscles with coolant and stretching them, trigger point injection (which administers local anesthetic and possibly a corticosteroid into a trigger point via a small needle), massage, and stretching.