Myofascial Pain Syndrome is a type of pain that can occur in multiple areas of the human body. In the case of this syndrome, pressure put upon certain sensitive points of the patient’s muscles is felt somewhere completely different in the body (a phenomena called “referred pain”).
The intensity of the pain can be very different, according to the different parts of the body and to the medical particularities of each patient.
Following, the article will explore the five most important things that you should definitely know about the Myofascial Pain Syndrome (or the MPS, as it is also known)
1- Causes and Risk Factors of MPS
While the causes for Myofascial Pain Syndrome are not completely understood, research has shown that systematic diseases (such as Sarcoidosis, AIDS, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and so on) can be the cause of this syndrome.
Also, connective tissue diseases (such as Stickler Syndrome, MarfanSyndrome, Alport Syndrome, Psoriatic Arthritis and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) are believed to be connected to the Myofascial Pain Syndrome.
However, most of the times it appears that poor posture is the main reason behind the development of this syndrome.
People who perform activities in which they have to contract their muscles repetitively (such as body builders and people working in the constructions industry) are often affected by the Myofascial Pain Syndrome symptoms.
Furthermore, those people who usually live very stressful lives tend to develop more so-called trigger points in their muscles.
These trigger points are precisely what starts the development of the Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Unlike the common strain, this syndrome can make the pain persist and worsen over time and it will not disappear without treatment.
2- Potential Complications of MPS
Moreover, the Myofascial Pain Syndrome can develop into more serious complications if it is not treated in time. One of these complications is called Fibromyalgia, which is a chronic medical condition that shows widespread pain in patients.
However, the relationship between Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia is not very clear, especially as the latter one usually shows a lot of factors in its development (including psychological, neurological, genetic and even environmental factors).
In the case of Fibromyalgia, the pain reaches a psychological level and the patients’ brains seem to be more responsive to any kind of pain. Furthermore, in association with depression, anxiety or post-traumatic disorder, Fibromyalgia can even be fatal.
Another complication to which the lack of treatment for Myofascial Pain Syndrome may lead is the development of certain sleep-related issues.
Problems in falling asleep, inability to move because it would cause the awakening of the patient and other sleep issues are thus common with people who suffer from MPS.
3- Myofascial Pain Syndrome Symptoms
It is important therefore to analyze your symptoms and see if you may be suffering from the Myofascial Pain Syndrome.
Here is a list of the most common Myofascial Pain Syndrome, which will hopefully help you figure out whether you are susceptible of this disease or not.
- Very deep pain in a muscle area
- Development of a knot in a muscle (sometimes visible without any kind of special examination).
- Pain that does not go away and becomes worse as the days go by
- Sleep issues (especially caused by pain).
4- Differentiating between the Fibromyalgia Symptoms and the MPS Symptoms
Bear in mind that the MPS symptoms and the Fibromyalgia symptoms can sometimes be confusing and it is not rare that both patients and doctors mistake one condition with the other.
They are both frequent in women who are more than 40 years old and they are both related to chronic pain. Moreover, pain develops in different muscle areas in both cases, which makes it difficult to put the correct diagnostic at a first glance.
The main difference between the two conditions and their symptoms is the fact that in the case of the Myofascial Pain Syndrome the damage and the inflammation occurs in the fascia, unlike in the case of the Fibromyalgia, where the damage occurs in the joints.
Furthermore, the Myofascial Pain Syndrome symptoms are quite different than those of the Fibromyalgia, if you take a deeper look at them. For starters, in the case of MPS, the symptoms are rather mild and they tend to be localized. In the other case though, these symptoms worsen a lot over time, to the point of pushing the patient into disability.
Also, MPS is very sudden and chronic in its development, while the other condition develops quite slowly and it can degenerate badly if not treated in time. In both of the cases there are some trigger points, but in the case of Fibromyalgia, these trigger points are widespread and larger in number than in the case of MPS.
Last, but not least, the symptoms of Fibromyalgia are long-lasting when compared to the Myofascial Pain Syndrome, and in the case of the latter the patient’s disability may occur, but it will only be of a temporary kind.
5- Treatment of the Myofascial Pain Syndrome Symptoms
The Myofascial Pain Syndrome Symptoms are treatable and there are a lot of things a doctor may recommend and prescribe the patient once the diagnostic has been put.
First of all, he/she may prescribe you certain pain relieving drugs. Most likely, they will be “traditional” over-the-counter pain killers, such as the ones containing Ibuprofen and Naproxen, for instance.
However, some doctors may prescribe you antidepressants, as it is believed that these drugs also help relieving the physical pain. Sedatives are also prescribed in certain cases, but they are not so widely spread precisely because they can have adverse effects such as sleepiness or developing addiction.
Furthermore, in addition to various types of medication, the doctor will recommend certain physical therapy methods, such as massage, stretching, heat and ultrasound.
Each of these methods has its own effects on the MPS symptoms. A doctor will also recommend a MPS suffering patient to undergo certain needle procedures, such as inserting steroids into the trigger point.