Myofascial pain is chronic muscle pain that is induced by “trigger points” in your muscles. These trigger points are tightened areas of muscle fibers that can send pain signals throughout the entire muscle. Myofascial pain syndrome is often confused with fibromyalgia, which is also a muscular pain condition, but the latter condition involves widespread fatigue and aching in the muscles, neither of which is caused by trigger points. Both fibromyalgia and myofascial pain are associated with depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Causes of Myofascial Pain
There are a variety of factors that can influence myofascial pain, including gender, age, stress levels, inactivity, bad posture, and muscle injury. There are many theories concerning what initiates myofascial pain. A common thread runs through many of the theories. The idea is as follows: A micro tear occurs in a few muscle fibers from any cause. The body tries to protect the injured muscle fibers by contracting adjacent muscle fibers, thus relieving strain in the injured fibers. However this contracted adjacent fibers also increase pressure on capillaries blood vessels supplying oxygen and nutrients to the injured area. Starved muscle fibers become irritable and spasm further increasing internal muscle pressure. A positive feedback cycle has begun causing myofascial pain and dysfunction. Spinal pathology that may initiate or contribute to muscle pain, including:
- Facet disease
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal arthritis
Symptoms of Myofascial Pain
Symptoms of myofascial pain tend to be regional, meaning they stay contained to one area of the body rather than radiating throughout the entire body. The patient may experience a deep aching in a muscle, stiffness, extreme tension or a muscle “knot,” and difficulty sleeping. When dealing with the spine, common muscles that are affected by this type of pain are the trapezius, the rhomboideus, latissimus dorsi, oblique, and piriformis muscles. Many patients feel the most pain in their gluteal muscles and around their shoulder blades.
Pain medication in the form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, in conjunction with physical therapy, has provided many patients with relief. Other nonsurgical treatment methods include the “spray and stretch” technique – during which a topical cooling spray numbs an area while the muscle is stretched – and trigger point injections (TPI) of various types. .Of course, removal of the source which began the myofascial pain cycle is important. Contact The Laser Spine Institute to discuss minimally invasive surgical techniques for treatment of conditions contributing to myofascial pain.