Myofascial Pain Syndrome
A Source of Muscular Pain and Related Symptoms
Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is a chronic condition that affects the body’s soft tissues. It most often occurs when a muscle, muscle group, ligament, or tendon is strained or injured.Muscles may ache for a few days, but when pain persists or worsens, it could be a sign of MPS.Pain may be localized or widespread, often in conjunction with more vague symptoms such as numbness, fatigue, or sleep disturbance.
Understanding Myofascial Pain
A tough connective tissue layer called fascia covers our muscles and spreads uninterrupted throughout our bodies. When injured, this tissue may tighten and contract putting painful pressure on nerves, muscles, bones, or organs. The area where the injury occurs is referred to as a trigger point. It may feel like a “knot” or “band” in the muscle. Often very sensitive to even light pressure, these trigger points typically generate pain not only at the site, but also in various other areas of the body (referred pain). You may experience symptoms that appear totally unrelated to the original injury.
Why Does MPS Occur?
MPS usually develops between ages 20 to 40 and is more common in women and people with sedentary lifestyles. Fortunately, the causes of MPS are well known.
- Damage to musculoskeletal tissues from trauma
- Injured or herniated discs
- Heavy and incorrect lifting
- Overuse of unconditioned muscles
- Immobilization of an arm or leg such as being in a cast
- Medical conditions such as heart attack, stomach irritation, or gall bladder problems
- Previous surgeries
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Hormonal changes (PMS or menopause)
- Prolonged exposure to cold, such as sleeping in front of an air conditioning vent
Stress and tension can make the discomfort of myofascial pain even worse, but are rarely the sole cause of the problem.
Recognizing Symptoms of MPS
MPS has been linked to many types of pain, from stiffness or a deep, aching pain in the muscle to headaches, jaw pain, neck pain, low back pain, pelvic pain, and arm and leg pain. You may also experience depression, fatigue, anxiety, or mood disturbances.