While the world of medical technology is constantly improved, there are medical conditions out there that are still as mysterious as they were a few decades ago.
Their causes (and thus, their actual treatment) are yet to be discovered and although researches have been done, up to the moment no clear answer has been given.
The myofascial pain syndrome is one of these medical conditions. Although it influences millions of people out there, the medical professionals are left puzzled in front of its causes.
Nobody actually knows what is it that triggers the development of this syndrome and how to cure it. Treatment is, of course, available, but it will only treat the symptoms and not their root.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome – The Basic Things You Should Definitely Know about It
If you or someone you care about suffers from MPS, you know that the pain felt can reach a very high level.
This pain is caused by the so-called “trigger points” that are found throughout the patient’s body and although in most of the cases the pain surrounds the actual trigger point, it can lead to referred pain as well (when the ache is felt in a different part of the body).
As mentioned before, the causes of this syndrome are not yet known. However, researchers believe that there is a series of risk factors that could influence the development of such a syndrome.
For instance, some of them believe that the development of the myofascial pain syndrome is related to depression, stress and high levels of emotional shock.
At the same time, other researchers believe that MPS may be triggered by systemic diseases or by prior injuries. According to these theories, MPS is actually triggered by the inability of the brain to perceive pain normally.
The symptoms shown by patients who suffer from the myofascial pain syndrome can differ a lot from one person to another, but the main characteristic of this medical condition is muscle pain (which is usually associated with muscle tenderness and spasms as well).
In addition to this major symptom, other symptoms may appear as well and they include bad sleeping patterns and waking up very tired, as well as feeling stiff after a certain period in which the body did not move.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome vs. Fibromyalgia
MPS is not the only syndrome that causes severe chronic pain, fatigue and all the other symptoms that are usually associated with it.
Fibromyalgia, for example, is extremely similar to the myofascial pain syndrome and it happens quite often to misdiagnose patients who suffer from one of these medical conditions (or from both, since this is very common as well).
Most of the times, patients will be diagnosed to suffer only from MPS (or only from fibromyalgia), when in reality they are affected by both of the syndromes.
Both myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia are associated with the above-mentioned trigger points, but in the case of the latter syndrome, the pain is felt throughout the entire body (while in the case of MPS, the pain is usually asymmetrical, meaning that it can be felt only on one part of the body).
When diagnosing fibromyalgia, all the 18 trigger points in the human body are analyzed and if the patient shows pain in at least 11 of them, then he/she will be diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
At the same time, in the case of this latter medical condition, the medical professionals will usually want to make further examinations and to see if the syndrome is not associated with other health issues (thyroid, digestive issues, and so on). With MPS, the diagnosis only involves the examination of the painful areas though.
There are multiple differences between these two syndromes, including symptoms that appear in one and do not appear in the other one.
For instance, patients with fibromyalgia may experience a general state of confusion, allergies and even panic attacks.
At the same time though, those patients who suffer from myofascial pain syndrome can experience memory issues, tinnitus (hearing a sound in the ears) and they may notice that they sweat more without having any obvious reason.
MPS and Its Treatment
The myofascial pain syndrome is treatable and while there may not be an actual cure for it, patients can be relieved from pain through various ways. Usually, the physician will recommend a combination of drugs and alternative/home remedies.
These drugs can include pain killers, sleeping pills and even anti-depressants (depending on the severity of the case, as well as on the particular symptoms).
Furthermore, the medical professional will recommend stress-reduction techniques and low-impact exercises that help relieving the patient both from the tenderness/stiffness and from the stress.
Yoga, Tai-Chi, acupuncture and other alternative medicine-type of remedies are also recommended quite often.
More recently, the idea that the myofascial pain syndrome is thought to be a form of muscle pain has become more popular among the specialists out there.
In one way or another, it is so and this is precisely why treatment that was typical of muscle pains started to be applied on MPS patients as well.
Trigger point injections, for instance, were usually used in the case of those who suffered from various forms of muscle pain but it can now be used for the myofascial pain syndrome patients as well.
However, in most of the cases, it is only prescribed for those patients in whose case nothing else worked and the efficiency of this treatment is yet to be proved completely.
Even though it was originally designed for another type of pain, trigger point injections can work because they can help release the pressure on the trigger points and they can even make them inactive.
For those patients who suffer from certain allergies, clean needle techniques can be used as well, which makes the treatment quite versatile to multiple categories of people.
MPS is not curable and the symptoms can persist for a long time before they disappear completely.
However, the fact that they are treatable is definitely a good and optimistic thing, especially since it could be that the cause of the disease will be soon found out and thus the actual cure will be developed as well.