What Is Myofascial Pain Syndrome And How To Cope With It

Lifestyle & Health

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a condition in which a person experiences chronic muscle pain in a certain area of the body. The pain usually starts (or gets worse) when trigger points are stimulated. The exact cause of MPS is unclear, but there are some factors that are thought to be involved. They include repetitive strain of the affected muscle, prolonged periods of inactivity, mental stress, and anxiety.

Treatment of myofascial pain syndrome may involve pain relievers, physical therapy, massage therapy, relaxation techniques, and other approaches. Symptoms usually improve with treatment, but if the condition is left untreated, it may get worse.

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Symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome

People with MPS have trigger points in the fascia (tissue that covers muscles) or muscle, and these points cause pain when activated. The pain may be felt not in the area where the trigger point is located, but in other areas that are near it. This phenomenon is known as referred pain.

Symptoms of MPS may include the following:

  • muscle pain which gets worse with pressure on the trigger point (the back is often affected);
  • persistent pain that feels like aching, burning, or stinging;
  • weakness or stiffness in the affected muscles;
  • tension headaches;
  • poor sleep, depression, and tiredness due to constant pain.

If you have such symptoms, don't hesitate to make a visit to your doctor.

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Factors that contribute to myofascial pain syndrome

It's not exactly clear what causes MPS, but there are certain factors that are thought to contribute to the condition. They include the following:

  • traumatic injury to the muscle;
  • repetitive strain injury;
  • bad posture;
  • dietary deficiencies;
  • prolonged periods of inactivity or immobility of a certain body part (such as a broken limb being in a fixed position for a long time);
  • poor sleep and fatigue;
  • mental stress;
  • depression and anxiety.

Treatment of myofascial pain syndrome

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will recommend treatment, which may involve the following:

  • physical therapy;
  • massage therapy;
  • ultrasound therapy;
  • trigger point injections;
  • medicines, including NSAIDs, tricyclic antidepressants, and sedatives.

Work together with your doctor to decide which treatment, or combination of treatments, will be the most convenient and effective for you.

Self-care measures to relieve myofascial pain syndrome

If you have MPS, there are measures you can take in addition to treatment to relieve the pain. Try the following:

  • stay as active as you can, but don't overdo it, especially if your pain gets worse with exercise (ask your doctor which types of exercise are safe for you);
  • try relaxation techniques, such as meditation - it can help change your perception of the pain;
  • try sleeping on an orthopedic mattress or sleeping in a different position, and see if it can help you sleep better;
  • if your job involves sitting for prolonged periods of time, change your chair to a more comfortable one (such as an orthopedic chair);
  • heat (a hot bath or a heating pad) may also help relieve your pain.

Source: Mayo Clinic, HealthLine, WebMD, MedicineNet, Michigan Medicine

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This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.

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