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Myofascial pain syndrome refers to a chronic condition that affects a person’s musculoskeletal system. With this disorder, pressure on the sensitive points (known as trigger points) in the muscle induces pain in various parts of the body.
Myofascial pain syndrome mostly affects people in the age group 40-60 years.
What causes myofascial pain?
Typically, myofascial pain syndrome occurs because of repetitive muscle contraction or overuse, or due to an injury. Sensitive areas of the tight muscle fibres can develop following an injury/trauma, and ultimately lead to pain and strain throughout the muscle.
Common signs and symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome include-
• Severe pain in localized muscle areas
• Pain that worsens when you stretch or strain the affected muscle
• Muscle pain that persists for longer than usual, or worsens with time
• Painful, tender knots in the muscles that lead to severe pain when pressed
• Weakness and stiffness in the muscles
• Inflexibility or a reduced range of motion
Although muscle pain is temporary in most cases, and usually subside on its own, you should visit a doctor immediately if the pain becomes intense and severe. Otherwise, the symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome can aggravate and impede your daily routine.
What is the treatment for myofascial pain syndrome?
Treatment for myofascial pain syndrome include a range of pain management options such as the following-
Your doctor will likely prescribe medications that include anticonvulsants, analgesics, and over-the-counter Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). These work as painkillers and help relieve pain and reduce muscle spasms.
Dry-needling is a quicker way of getting rid of myofascial pain symptoms. The doctor inactivates the trigger points by directly inserting a needle into it. He/she will then slowly move the needle around and poke it inside and out. The initial process can be a little painful, but it certainly helps manage the pain in your muscles. Alternatively, acupuncture needles can be used for the same procedure since they are small and are less painful.
• Local injections
Local injections, also known as trigger point injections, are similar to dry-needling. The only difference is that local injections involve injecting a solution (saline/steroid/or a local anaesthetic) into the trigger points. The method yield similar results as does dry-needling.
Different types of therapies can be used to ease the pain associated with this chronic pain disorder.
- Ultrasound therapy where sound waves are transmitted into the muscle tissues through a sound-conducting gel applied on the skin. The sound waves heat up and relax the muscles, thereby improving blood circulation and removing the scar tissues. Ultrasound therapy is also effective in reducing muscle stiffness and increasing one’s mobility.
- Massage therapy also is very effective in treating myofascial pain syndrome. The therapist usually uses his/her fingers or some sort of equipment to induce pressure on the various trigger points. When performed, this procedure may first aggravate the muscle pain and then release muscle tension.
Apart from these, the doctor may prescribe regular exercising or physiotherapy treatment for patients suffering from chronic muscle pain.
Myofascial pain syndrome can be managed well using the techniques mentioned above. In addition, it is very important that you stick to some sort of physical activity. Talk to your doctor and incorporate these pain management techniques to live a pain-free healthy life.