Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) refers to pain and presumed inflammation in the body's soft tissues or muscles. Myofascial pain is a chronic, painful condition that affects the fascia (connective tissue that covers the muscles). Myofascial pain syndrome might involve either a single muscle or a muscle group. In some cases, the area where a person experiences the pain might not be where the myofascial pain generator is located. Experts believe that the actual site of the injury or the strain prompts the development of a trigger point that, in turn, causes pain in other areas. This situation is known as referred pain. Myofascial pain might develop from a muscle injury or from excessive strain on a particular muscle or muscle group, ligament, or tendon.
Symptoms: Myofascial pain symptoms usually involve muscle pain with specific "trigger" or "tender" points. The pain can be made worse with activity or stress. In addition to the local or regional pain associated with myofascial pain syndrome, people with the disorder also can suffer from depression, fatigue, and behavioral disturbances. The recognition of this syndrome requires a precise understanding of the body's trigger points.
Treatment: Physical therapy methods are considered the best treatments for myofascial pain syndrome. Other treatments include a "stretch and spray" technique, in which the muscle with the trigger point is sprayed along its length with a coolant, and then slowly stretched. Massage therapy is another treatment, as is trigger point injection. In the latter form of therapy, anesthesia is injected directly into the trigger point of the patient. 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.