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What is myofascial pain?

Myofascial pain is a relatively common medical condition characterized as a painful sensation and it affects a large number of people everywhere around the world. This type of medical condition may affect any skeletal muscle in the human body and it can be held responsible for a large number of cases of chronic musculoskeletal pain. It may also be held responsible for several other sorts of medical conditions such as muscle weakness without atrophy, local twitch responses in the affected muscle, autonomic phenomena, limitation of movement, stiffness, clicking, popping, tenderness, tightness and referred or local painful sensations. There are the so called triggering points which are responsible for the referred painful sensations accompanied by local twitch response and a significantly restricted range of motion. An active triggering point is associated with remote areas in a predefined pattern in situations which involve local stimulation. It also usually sets off other satellite triggering points which usually disappear once the initial active triggering point gets inactivated. There are also certain types of latent triggering points which may be associated with symptoms such as limitation and stiffness but they usually do not trigger any painful sensations. It is also a quite peculiar fact that they usually occur in asymptomatic individuals. Sometimes the myofascial pain gets confused with fibromyalgia, because these two medical conditions share many similar features and symptoms. The main difference is that fibromyalgia is actually a widespread problem which involves painful sensations, while the myofascial pain is only a regional medical condition.

Causes and symptoms

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


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

Treatment options for myofacial pain

The most common type of treatment for all those who suffer from myofascial pain is physical therapy. This type of therapy usually corrects the shortening of the muscles by correcting the aggravating biomechanical and postural factors, strengthening the affected muscles and utilizing some targeted stretching. One should also take notice that there are several other types of procedures and techniques, but not all of them are always efficient in all cases. Some of them include stretching, massage and exercise and Indomethacin phonophoresis. There is also another method called electrical muscle stimulation which may be effective in some cases of myofascial pain. It usually utilizes high frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, functional electrical stimulation and interferential current to stimulate the nerves electrically. Some other less commonly used methods of treatment include EMG biofeedback and ultrasonography. Another method which may be of great help when it comes to setting up some highly ergonomic workstations for those whose who suffer from myofascial pain is the one called occupational therapy. It may come in very handy when it comes to decreasing all the postural factors known for aggravating the condition. One should also remember that myofascial pain is a medical condition which may trigger certain complications when left untreated.

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