The word 'myofascial' refers to connective tissue in the body called 'fascia' which surrounds muscle tissue ('myo' means 'muscle') and internal organs.
Myofascial pain syndrome describes chronic deep muscular pain that tends to occur in specific areas of the body. It is also common for pain in one area to lead to referred pain in another part of the body. It is sometimes referred to by the abbreviations 'MPS' or 'CMP' (Chronic Myofascial Pain).
Myofascial pain syndrome is caused by damage to the fascia and the subsequent formation of knots in the muscle either due to a specific injury or some form of overuse use of a muscle or set of muscles. These knots are referred to as 'trigger points' and can then cause pain throughout the entire muscle. The types of factors that can lead to developing the condition include…
- Injury to muscles, bones or intervertebral discs.
- Sustained repetitive physical activities / movement (e.g. work involving lifting heavy objects) .
- Very low levels of physical activity.
- Poor posture while sitting or standing.
- Insufficient sleep.
- Other pain.
- Other medical conditions (e.g. some conditions affecting the gall bladder, heart, appendix and stomach) .
- Stress / depression / anxiety.
- Poor diet.
- Weight / obesity.
- Deep muscle pain, aggravated when stretching or straining the affected muscle.
- Stiffness in affected muscle/s.
- Development of knots in affected muscle/s which, if pressed, cause pain either to that spot, or referred pain elsewhere (in some cases no pain is felt at the site of the trigger point - only at the site of the referred pain).
- Reduced range of limb movement.
- Difficulty sleeping.
Tests / Diagnosis
The first step in the diagnosis of myofascial pain syndrome is a complete review of medical history, including all symptoms and any previous injuries or surgery. Physical examination will involve an assessment of any pain trigger points and any resultant referred pain (this may be indicated by a muscle twitch, as opposed to pain). Your doctor may also recommend other tests to make sure that the symptoms are not caused by another condition.