Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic condition that causes pain in the musculoskeletal system. This pain is confined to a particular area.
This syndrome typically occurs after a muscle has been contracted repetitively. This can be caused by repetitive motions used in jobs or hobbies or by stress-related muscle tension.
While nearly everyone has experienced muscle tension pain, the discomfort associated with myofascial pain syndrome persists or worsens. Our treatment options include physical therapy and trigger point injections. Prescribed pain medications and relaxation techniques also can help.
Myofascial pain is typically associated with trigger points in muscles. These trigger points radiate pain to the affected area when pressure is applied to them and sometimes spontaneously with no pressure. Sometimes this pain can be in what seems to be an unrelated part of the body.
Signs and symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome may include:
Deep pain in localized areas of muscles
Pain that gets worse when the affected muscle is stretched or strained
Muscle pain that gets worse or fails to improve with time
Presence of painful knots in muscles that when pressed produce intense localized or referred pain
Muscles that are weak, stiff, inflexible, or have reduced range of motion
mood or sleep disturbances
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience muscle pain that doesn't go away. Nearly everyone experiences muscle pain from time to time. But if your muscle pain persists despite rest, massage, and similar self-care measures, make an appointment with your trusted physical therapist.
Your doctor will perform a physical exam to look for myofascial trigger points. Your doctor will look for tender nodules in the taut bands of your muscles and press them to find a pain response. When pressing a trigger point, your doctor will feel for a twitch in the muscle (also called a “jump sign”).
There are no other tests that can show the presence of MPS. Your doctor will rely on you to describe where and how you’re experiencing pain. It’s important to tell your doctor about all your current symptoms and any past injuries or surgeries.
Myofascial pain syndrome requires a multipronged treatment plan. Many people combine medications with other therapies that relieve muscle stiffness and pain.
Myofascial Release. Focuses on reducing pain by easing the tension and tightness in the trigger points.
Your therapist will gently massage and feel for stiff or tightened areas. Also massaging and stretching the areas that feel rigid with light manual pressure. The therapist then aids the tissue and supportive sheath in releasing pressure and tightness. The process is repeated multiple times on the same trigger point and on other trigger points until the therapist feels the tension is fully released.
It’s not always easy to understand what trigger point is responsible for the pain. Localizing pain to a specific trigger point is very difficult. For that reason, myofascial release is often used over a broad area of muscle and tissue rather than at single points.
Massage therapy. There are several types of massage treatments that can relax myofascial trigger points. These include:
Passive rhythmic release
Active rhythmic release
Trigger point pressure release
Massage therapy increases blood flow and warms up muscles. This can help reduce stiffness and ease the pain. The massage therapist may use their thumb to put pressure on your trigger points, which will aggravate pain and then release the muscle tension.
Trauma, inflammatory responses, and/or surgical procedures create Myofascial restrictions that can produce tensile pressures of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures that do not show up in many of the standard tests (x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, electromyography, etc.)
The use of Myofascial Release allows us to look at each patient as a unique individual. Our one-on-one therapy sessions are hands-on treatments during which our therapists use a multitude of Myofascial Release techniques and movement therapy.
We promote independence through education in proper body mechanics and movement, self-treatment instruction, enhancement of strength, improved flexibility, and postural and movement awareness.
Benefit From Myofascial Release
Patients with myofascial pain syndrome frequently benefit from this type of therapy. People who experience chronic headaches may also find relief from myofascial release. Gently massaging on tightened muscles in and around the neck and head may reduce headaches.
Some people with venous insufficiency, which occurs when blood pools in the deep veins of the leg, may also be candidates for myofascial release. During venous insufficiency, the blood pool stretches and eventually damages the veins in your legs. You may experience an aching and painful sensation in the affected leg. The myofascial release might be used in conjunction with other treatments to reduce the pooling and pain caused by venous insufficiency.
What Are the Risks of Myofascial Release?
Myofascial release by massage therapy has very few risks. Whether you’re trying to relax or aiming to ease back pain, massage therapy may be beneficial for pain reduction.
However, massage isn’t ideal for people:
With burns, injuries, or painful wounds
With fractures or broken bones
With fragile or weak bones
With deep vein thrombosis or deep vein issues
Taking blood-thinning medications
Complications associated with untreated myofascial pain syndrome may include:
Sleep problems. Signs and symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome may make it difficult to sleep at night. You may have trouble finding a comfortable sleep position. And if you move at night, you might hit a trigger point and awaken.
Fibromyalgia. Some research suggests that myofascial pain syndrome may develop into fibromyalgia in some people. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that features widespread pain. It's believed that the brains of people with fibromyalgia become more sensitive to pain signals over time. Some doctors believe myofascial pain syndrome may play a role in starting this process.