Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is common among people with musculoskeletal pain problems. MPS is a pain condition originating from muscle and surrounding fascia, usually with localized pain in a restricted area or referred pain of various patterns. It is a common debilitating disease of the muscles and associated soft tissues with pain radiating from one or more trigger points stimulated by pressure or by nothing at all.
Myofascial pain syndrome can be debilitating and can interfere with an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks. Therefore, it is essential to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with the syndrome. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the severity of the syndrome and prevent further complications.
Myofascial pain syndrome is a prevalent and significant musculoskeletal disorder that causes chronic pain in several body sites, specifically in the elderly, since there have been years of use on their muscles. Hence the significant importance of massage therapy for those in elder care, living alone with home health, or in a nursing home. Or perhaps, merely just as we age.
In reference to massage and elder care: (Kim, M., Lee, M., Kim, Y., Oh, S., Lee, D., & Yoon, B. (2016). Myofascial Pain Syndrome in the Elderly and Self-Exercise: A Single-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 22(3), 244-251. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2015.0205)
Treating MPS early will slow the progression and severity, and using massage tools will loosen the tight fascia, reduce pain and improve mobility. Fascia is the sheet of connective tissue that wraps around and within your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and when it becomes too tight, it can cause chronic MPS over time.
Psychological stress, such as addiction, depression, or anxiety, could also significantly contribute to muscle tension leading to myofascial pain. For instance, let us consider those with this syndrome because of psychological stress; if their mind is in a constant “fight or flight” mode, then their muscles and the rest of their body will match what their mind is doing, resulting in tense, stressed muscles.
In other ways, psychological stress can contribute to myofascial pain syndrome. For example, if a person feels anxious or overwhelmed, they may start to tense their muscles, leading to myofascial pain. Or, when depressed, our bodies often become tense, again leading to myofascial pain.
Additionally, if we are constantly feeling stressed, our muscles will become tight and overworked, resulting in myofascial pain. Therefore, managing our stress levels is vital, as it can significantly contribute to MPS.
Suggested ways to manage stress and pain:
- Anti-anxiety medication (check with your pharmacist for low cost options)
- Depression medication (check with your pharmacist for low cost options)
- Talk therapy
(Always remember information within this article is meant for entertainment purposes only and is in no way a replacement for professional medical or psychological support. Seek appropriate advice from a healthcare professional should you feel it necessary.)
How debilitating is myofascial pain syndrome?
Myofascial pain syndrome is a common debilitating disease of the muscles and associated soft tissues. Pain radiates from one or more trigger points stimulated by pressure or by nothing at all. When it happens seemingly without provocation, that’s when the sufferer can really feel defeated. Healthcare pros ask what’s going on, and they cannot put this “type” of pain into words. Nor does it happen while under a physician’s care, kind of like when our autos won’t make that “noise” at the mechanics. And to add more confusion, MPS is frequently confused with fibromyalgia, but it is not the same syndrome.
Symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome include pain that’s described as deep aching, throbbing, tight, stiff, or vice-like. Trigger points (a small bump, nodule, or knot in the muscle that causes pain when touched and sometimes when it’s not touched).
Other worst-case scenarios of myofascial pain syndrome can include:
Complete loss of sensation in the affected area: This can be especially true for those with trigger points in the neck or spine.
Muscle weakness: An individual may experience muscle weakness and fatigue due to the pain and inflammation caused by the syndrome.
Difficulty sleeping: The pain can cause difficulty sleeping, which can cause fatigue and mood swings.
Difficulty concentrating: The pain can cause difficulty concentrating and interfere with the individual’s ability to work or perform daily tasks.
Pain that worsens with movement: An individual may find that the pain worsens with movement and that even the slightest movement can cause intense pain.
Pain that persists even after treatment: Even after treatment, the pain may persist, leading to further complications.
Inability to perform regular activities: The pain can cause an inability to perform regular activities, such as walking, standing, working, or even sitting.
Inability to participate in physical activities: The pain can cause an inability to participate in physical activities, such as sports, dance, or exercise.
Loss of appetite: The pain can cause a loss of appetite, leading to further health complications.
Depression: Pain and discomfort can ultimately lead to depression and anxiety, especially when you have lost the ability to do the activities you enjoy.
What is MPS in medical terms?
According to an article by the Mayo Clinic, “Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder. In this condition, pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in the muscle and sometimes in seemingly unrelated parts of your body. This is called referred pain.
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. Treatment options include physical therapy and trigger point injections. Pain medications and relaxation techniques also can help,”.
Massage tools can be a great aid in teaching muscles how to “relax.” For example, vibrational movements from the recovery massage guns provide powerful pain relief through deep tissue massage. The effects of deep tissue massage on pain relief are well documented.
The Mayo Clinic later shared some unfortunate complications associated with chronic MPS, and they might 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 certain people may develop myofascial pain syndrome into fibromyalgia. 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.
Myofascial pain syndrome
In conclusion, myofascial pain syndrome is a debilitating and complex condition that can interfere with daily activities, cause sleep disturbances, and even lead to fibromyalgia. Ultimately, managing stress levels and seeking professional help when needed are essential for reducing the effects of this condition.