Myofascial Pain Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions

Muscles and associated tissues are always susceptible to different pain conditions. Pulled muscles can cause mild soreness, sharp and stabbing sensations, or radiating pain. Old injuries like recurrent back and shoulder problems can reoccur after certain physical activities, which are mostly related to muscles (myofascia) and not the spine.

The pain you experience is rarely attributed to the region where it appears or radiates from. In fact, conditions like back pain, pelvic pain, plantar fasciitis, neck pain, TMJ syndrome, and various forms of headaches and migraines can be attributed to myofascial pain.

What is myofascial Pain?

Myofascial comprises the words “myo,” which means muscle, and “fascia,” referring to the connective tissue that covers and intertwines with muscle. Therefore, the myofascia is what holds together the muscles and their connective tissues. Myofascial pain is generated by hyperactive small areas of irritability in muscles, tendons, or associated fascia, and they’re called trigger points.

What is a trigger point?

When muscles contract, they shorten or constrict. A trigger point is a part of the muscle that gets stuck in this contracted state. It’s also where the autonomic nervous system interacts with the muscle to produce tension.

How do trigger points form?

Trigger points develop in muscles, tendons, and surrounding fascia in response to injury. The damage can result from repetitive strain and microtrauma, crushing, sudden strain, impact, bone fractures, and other events.

How do we find trigger points?

A trained practitioner can usually feel these trigger points during a physical examination. Trigger points typically feel like nodules or knots of tightness within a ropey band of muscle. A physical exam is essential for identifying trigger points because they go undetected by X-rays, CTs, and MRI scans.

What do trigger points cause?

Trigger points cause continued muscle shortening to restrict motion and weaken the muscle. They also cause pain, which can be numbness, tingling, burning, aching, cramping, sharp, dull, or radiating.

Several things can happen when these trigger points get activated. For example, the hamstrings can shorten so much that a person can’t touch their toes with their knees straight. Other effects include weakening of a muscle that’s been previously injured, tension and migraine headaches, and referred pain, which starts in one body part and travels to other areas.

Trigger points are also associated with:

  • Repetitive strain and motion
  • Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow, from trigger points in forearm muscles
  • Bursitis and inflammation of the hip joint from trigger points in the buttock muscles
  • Growing pains in children because of trigger points in the thighs, calves, and feet
  • Phantom limb pain after an amputation, with trigger points in the residual limb causing tingling, sharp, aching, or burning sensations to radiate to the missing hand or foot
  • Migraine and headaches of all kinds including occipital neuralgia
  • Pelvic pain attributed to pudendal neuralgia
  • Face pain attributed to trigeminal neuralgia
  • Lower back pain that radiates down the leg

What can be done to help someone with this diagnosis?

Many treatments are available to help adults and children with myofascial pain. These include:

  • Bodywork, such as myofascial release, chiropractic, acupuncture, and stretching
  • Myofascial trigger point injections and other injection techniques, including prolotherapy, prolozone, platelet-rich plasma/stem cell therapy, and neural therapy
  • Acupuncture, thought field therapy, biofeedback, EEG biofeedback, and Heartmath biofeedback to treat pain and stress
  • ARPWave therapy
  • Photobiomodulated light therapy and Firefly

Other helpful modalities include healing touch, environmental detoxification, aromatherapy, photon therapy (infrared light), and massage.

What can I do at home to deal with myofascial pain?

Nutrition plays an important role in reducing pain and fatigue and improving overall wellness. Nutritional supplements can make a tremendous difference in supporting the body’s natural healing. Nutritional change can be difficult to achieve, which is why we provide one-on-one sessions under Dr. Blatman’s direction to help our patients incorporate these changes into their daily routines. In addition, you can take advantage of food sensitivity testing to find solutions to bowel problems, headache, pain, fatigue, and mental cloudiness.

Another consideration is stress management. When we’re stressed and anxious, our central nervous system mechanisms create more muscular discomfort. Since occasional stress is inevitable, we can adopt techniques that change how we respond to stress.

Finally, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep. For most individuals, sleep deprivation leads to fatigue and diffuse pain patterns. Non-addictive prescription sleep aids may promote rest and help restore normal sleep patterns, especially for people who experience both pain and fatigue from conditions like fibromyalgia.

Is there hope for people with myofascial pain?

Definitely yes!

Every day, research is shedding more light on myofascial pain and helping doctors understand more about the mechanisms that cause it. By focusing on trigger points, providers like Dr. Blatman achieve greater success with pain reduction and natural healing.

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