Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is considered the most common cause of musculoskeletal pain, especially chronic musculoskeletal pain. (Click to view more on chronic pain). MPS is characterized by multiple sites of sensitive ‘trigger points’ within taut bands of muscle. Palpation of these Trigger Points (TP’s) reveals muscle tissue that is of harder than normal consistency. TP’s can cause radiating, or referred pain – particularly when palpated, but also at rest. Also the existence of myofascial trigger points result in impaired or limited mobility of the muscle, and thus the joint it is associated with.
Some common symptoms may include:
1. Muscle Pain and ‘Tension’ associated with painful TPs commonly found in the neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back and hips. However, myofascial pain can take place anywhere that muscles exist.
2. MPS can be associated with tension type headache producing a ‘vice-like’ gripping around the base of head and temples.
3. General, non-specific or ‘regional’ achiness and ‘fatigue’.
Comprehensive treatment includes identification and modification of repetitive and prolonged provocative postures or movements, Relaxation techniques and/or biofeedback to modify postural ‘holding patterns’, selective conditioning of important postural muscles and Manual Therapy. Manual therapy interventions for MFS may include Specific massage techniques including Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) to break up muscle fibrosis and Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN). Research has demonstrated that TDN can result in an immediate reduction in local sensitivity, state of irritability and range of referred pain with palpation. Also this treatment appears to normalize the chemical environment at the neuromuscular junction of the muscle (impaired neurotransmitter levels have been implicated as contributing to MFS) and lead to a reduced ‘sensitization’ of peripheral nerve associated with the impaired muscle. Click here to read more information on Trigger Points (Disclaimer – This article is highly technical!)