CONDITIONS TREATEDMyofascial Pain / Myofascial Disorders
What is myofascial pain?
Myofascial pain is a pain condition caused by irritation or inflammation in the muscles (myo) and fascia.
Fascia is the connective tissue that is wrapped around individual muscle fibers, single muscles and muscle groups. In addition to the muscles, fascia also surrounds or connects to all organs and blood vessels. Fascia has two important roles in the body: 1) it holds the structures together and 2) it provides a slick surface for individual structures to slide against each other without friction, or tearing.
Prolonged irritation within the muscle tissue leads to development of “knots” or nodule-like spots inside it. These knots are easy to find because in addition to having a distinct, nodule-like texture, they are tender when pressure is applied to them. These tender knots within a contracted muscle are called myofascial trigger points. Even though there are some anatomical differences between people, in general, trigger points within a given muscle tend to follow a specific spatial pattern. This allowed myofascial pain specialists develop charts depicting likely locations of trigger points for every muscle in the body.
If not released, myofascial trigger points start producing a sensation of pain (or sometimes create an altered sensation, such as burning, coldness, etc.) in distant areas. This is called referred pain.
Pain referred from myofascial trigger points is called myofascial pain. If left untreated, myofascial pain may become chronic and develop into a condition known as myofascial pain syndrome (or myofascial pain disorder).
Causes of myofascial pain
The most common causes of myofascial pain include:
- Muscle injury or other body injury (injuries result in splinting of the muscles around the injured site)
- Muscle strain resulting from repetitive muscle use (e.g. hammering, painting, computer work, etc.)
- Muscle weakness caused by inactivity
- Muscle tightness caused by poor posture or faulty alignment of a body part
- Emotional stress (emotional stress can cause tensing of the muscles)
- Working in or living in a cold environment, according to some experts may be a predisposing factor
Other factors that may contribute to the development of myofascial pain syndrome include:
- Metabolic or hormonal problems (e.g. thyroid disease or diabetic neuropathy)
- Vitamin deficiencies, including vitamin D and folate
- Presence of chronic infections
Myofascial pain and TMJ, headaches and tinnitus
Most TMJ and headache cases and many tinnitus cases are actually myofascial pain disorders caused by referred pain originating in the muscles of the face and neck.