Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome is a pain disorder. This pain may be felt in the muscles. It may come and go. Myofascial pain syndrome always has trigger or tender points in the muscle that will cause pain when pressed.

CAUSES

Myofascial pain may be caused by injuries, especially auto accidents, or by overuse of certain muscles. Typically the pain is long lasting. It is made worse by overuse of the involved muscles, emotional distress, and by cold, damp weather. Myofascial pain syndrome often develops in patients whose response to stress is an increase in muscle tone, and is seen in greater frequency in patients with pre-existing tension headaches.

SYMPTOMS

Myofascial pain syndrome causes a wide variety of symptoms. You may see tight ropy bands of muscle. Problems may also include aching, cramping, burning, numbness, tingling, and other uncomfortable sensations in muscular areas. It most commonly affects the neck, upper back, and shoulder areas. Pain often radiates into the arms and hands.

TREATMENT

Treatment includes resting the affected muscular area and applying ice packs to reduce spasm and pain. Trigger point injection, is a valuable initial therapy. This therapy is an injection of local anesthetic directly into the trigger point. Trigger points are often present at the source of pain. Pain relief following injection confirms the diagnosis of myofascial pain syndrome. Fairly vigorous therapy can be carried out during the pain-free period after each injection. Stretching exercises to loosen up the muscles are also useful. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may provide relief from pain. TENS is the use of electric current produced by a device to stimulate the nerves. Ultrasound therapy applied directly over the affected muscle may also provide pain relief. Anti-inflammatory pain medicine can be helpful. Symptoms will gradually improve over a period of weeks to months with proper treatment.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

Call your caregiver for follow-up care as recommended.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

Your pain is severe and not helped with medications.