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What is myofascial pain?

Myofascial pain is a relatively common medical condition characterizedas a painful sensation and it affects a large number of people everywherearound the world. This type of medical condition may affect any skeletal musclein the human body and it can be held responsible for a large number of cases ofchronic musculoskeletal pain. It may also be held responsible for several othersorts of medical conditions such as muscle weakness without atrophy, local twitchresponses in the affected muscle, autonomic phenomena, limitation of movement,stiffness, clicking, popping, tenderness, tightness and referred or localpainful sensations. There are the so called triggering points which areresponsible for the referred painful sensations accompanied by local twitchresponse and a significantly restricted range of motion. An active triggeringpoint is associated with remote areas in a predefined pattern in situationswhich involve local stimulation. It also usually sets off other satellitetriggering points which usually disappear once the initial active triggeringpoint gets inactivated. There are also certain types of latent triggeringpoints which may be associated with symptoms such as limitation and stiffnessbut they usually do not trigger any painful sensations. It is also a quitepeculiar fact that they usually occur in asymptomatic individuals. Sometimesthe myofascial pain gets confused with fibromyalgia, because these two medicalconditions share many similar features and symptoms. The main difference isthat fibromyalgia is actually a widespread problem which involves painfulsensations, while the myofascial pain is only a regional medical condition.

Causes and symptoms

There are numerous different causes and factors which may beheld responsible for the onset of myofascial pain. The most common ones includedifferent types of muscle injuries along with excessive strain put on a particulartendon, ligament, muscle or even muscle group. Other possible causes ofmyofascial pain may include lack of activity, stomach irritation, heart attack,repetitive motions, general fatigue, injuries to intervertebral disks andseveral other medical conditions. As far as characteristic symptoms areconcerned, myofascial pain is usually described by muscle pain which hasspecific tender and trigger points. Stress and physical activity commonly makethe condition worse. This regional pain may often be accompanied by certainother sorts of symptoms such as fatigue, depression and various kinds ofbehavioral disturbances.


In order to diagnose this medical condition properly oneneeds to fully and precisely understand the trigger points located on theaffected areas of the body. These trigger points are commonly identified simplyby applying gentle pressure on the skin. A proper diagnose may identify fourdifferent types of trigger points and those include active trigger points,latent trigger points, secondary trigger points and satellite myofascialtrigger points. This medical condition is a relatively common one, which iseasily reflected in the fact that almost every human being develops a triggerpoint at some point in life. There are at least 14 percent of the citizens ofthe United States who suffer from chronic instances of musculoskeletal pain. Itis a relieving fact that the condition is not fatal, but it may still reducethe quality of an individual’s life quite significantly. It affects both menand women equally, and there are no racial differences in the incidence ofmyofascial pain. This type of medical condition may affect persons from alldifferent age groups, but one should take notice that as a person gradually getsolder, he or she is at an increased risk of developing myofascial pain. Thosewho lead a sedentary lifestyle are also more likely to suffer from this medicalcondition.

Treatment options for myofacial pain

The most common type of treatment for all those who sufferfrom myofascial pain is physical therapy. This type of therapy usually correctsthe shortening of the muscles by correcting the aggravating biomechanical and posturalfactors, strengthening the affected muscles and utilizing some targetedstretching. One should also take notice that there are several other types ofprocedures and techniques, but not all of them are always efficient in allcases. Some of them include stretching, massage and exercise and Indomethacinphonophoresis. There is also another method called electrical musclestimulation which may be effective in some cases of myofascial pain. It usuallyutilizes high frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, functionalelectrical stimulation and interferential current to stimulate the nerveselectrically. Some other less commonly used methods of treatment include EMGbiofeedback and ultrasonography. Another method which may be of great help whenit comes to setting up some highly ergonomic workstations for those whose whosuffer from myofascial pain is the one called occupational therapy. It may comein very handy when it comes to decreasing all the postural factors known foraggravating the condition. One should also remember that myofascial pain is amedical condition which may trigger certain complications when left untreated.

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