Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder. In myofascial pain syndrome, pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in seemingly unrelated parts of your body. This is called referred pain.
Myofascial pain syndrome typically occurs after a muscle has been contracted repetitively. This can be caused by repetitive motions used in jobs or hobbies or by stress-related muscle tension.
While nearly everyone has experienced muscle tension pain, the discomfort associated with myofascial pain syndrome persists or worsens. Treatment options for myofascial pain syndrome include physical therapy and trigger point injections. Pain medications and relaxation techniques also can help.
Signs and symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome may include:
Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience muscle pain that doesn't go away. Nearly everyone experiences muscle pain from time to time. But if your muscle pain persists despite rest, massage and similar self-care measures, make an appointment with your doctor.
Sensitive areas of tight muscle fibers can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse. These sensitive areas are called trigger points. A trigger point in a muscle can cause strain and pain throughout the muscle. When this pain persists and worsens, doctors call it myofascial pain syndrome.
Myofascial pain syndrome is caused by a stimulus, such as pressure, that sets off trigger points in your muscles. Factors that may increase your risk of muscle trigger points include:
Complications associated with myofascial pain syndrome may include:
Because many of the signs and symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome are similar to various other disorders, you may see several doctors before receiving a diagnosis.
Medications used for myofascial pain syndrome include:
A physical therapist can devise a plan to help relieve your pain based on your signs and symptoms. Physical therapy to relieve myofascial pain syndrome may involve:
Injecting a numbing agent or a steroid into a trigger point can help relieve pain. In some people, just the act of inserting the needle into the trigger point helps break up the muscle tension. Called dry needling, this technique involves inserting a needle into several places in and around the trigger point. Acupuncture also appears to be helpful for some people who have myofascial pain syndrome.
Take care of yourself if you have myofascial pain syndrome. Self-care measures to keep your body healthy may make it easier for you to concentrate on coping with your pain. Try to:
Having a chronic pain condition such as myofascial pain syndrome can be frustrating. Treatment may be only moderately successful for you. It may help to talk to a counselor about the challenges you're facing. Online or in-person support groups also can be helpful by connecting you with people who understand what you're going through.