Myofascial pain syndrome is a condition where pressure exerted on certain points on your muscles, leading to musculoskeletal pain. Sometimes the pain is also felt in some other parts of the body which are apparently unrelated but are connected through common nerve supply. This is termed as referred pain.
The fascia is a thin type of connective tissue that covers some parts of the muscles in a thin layer and the points upon which pressure exertion causes pain are known as trigger points. Inflammation in the soft tissues of the body also happens.
This condition commonly occurs when a muscle has to contract repetitively for a long time.Commonly it occurs in people who work in certain jobs that demand repetitive stretching of some specific muscles or in people involved in certain hobbies. The pain and discomfort associated with this syndrome either continues or aggravates with the passage of time.
Symptoms of Myofascial Back Pain Syndrome
There may be many symptoms of myofascial back pain, but the common ones are:
- Pain is felt in the deeper areas of muscles, usually in localised points.
- Persistent pain that is aggravated when the patient stretches the affected muscle or with the straining of the muscle.
- Musclular pain is not improved with the passage of time. It usually worsens.
- Usually, the affected person feels painful knots in the affected muscles. With the pressing of these knots, severe pain, either localised or referred, is felt.
- Muscles become inflexible, taut, stiff and weak and the range of motion is decreased significantly.
- Mood swings and disturbance of sleep pattern may also occur.
The lower back is the region that tends to be affected most often by myofascial pain disorders, often leading to chronic low back pain (CLBP), as well as pelvic pain. The upper back, and specifically the shoulders can also be affected, and lead to shoulder pain.
Risk Factors for Myofascial Back Pain
The underlying cause of myofascial back pain is a stimulus that causes the triggering of pain in certain specific points in muscles. Some of the risk factors that may enhance the risk of these specific muscle trigger points are the following:
Chronic muscle stress or an acute muscle injury may become a cause of development of pain-causing trigger points. A spot which is present near a strained muscle or within the strained muscle may take the form of a trigger point. Repetitive movements of the same muscles and poor postural techniques also enhance the risk.
Stress or Anxiety
People who routinely have to face anxiety and stress are more prone to develop trigger points in their muscles. According to a concept, these people usually tend to clench their muscles, and thus muscles have to suffer from repetitive strain. This effect makes muscles more susceptible to develop trigger points.
Lack of Activity
Lack of activity for example in case of a broken vertebral bone also may lead to the development of trigger points within the muscles, which leads to myofascial pain.
Other contributing factors towards myofascial back pain are:
- Sitting in an awkward posture for a prolonged period of time.
- Nutritional deficiencies.
- Any injury to intervertebral disc.
- Generalised fatigue.
- Lack of sleep.
- Hormonal changes.
- Severe cooling of muscles for example when sleeping for several hours in front and an air conditioner.
- Emotional factors.
- Any painful or inflammatory condition affecting the back.
Treatment for Myofascial Back Pain
This type of pain syndrome demands a multidisciplinary treatment approach. Many therapists combine pain medications with muscle relaxants and other therapies that help in lessening muscle stiffness and pain. But there are also natural and non-invasive ways to reduce it, which may help even in cases of chronic myofascial pain without the need to rely on other pain relievers.
Home Remedies to Correct Myofascial Back Pain
There are many self-help remedies you can easily do yourself to lessen your pain and improve your quality of life. Some options include:
- Arrange a better and comfortable chair for your workplace that provides sufficient support for your spine and mind your posture while sitting down for long periods of time.
- Adjust the height of your computer table properly so that your computer screen falls in front of your natural gaze.
- Use a firm mattress for sleeping, that is not too hard, but not too soft either.
- Do not sleep on your stomach. If you tend to sleep on one side, keep a pillow between both of your legs.
- Try to do Pilates, yoga or another stretching type of work out.
- Always wear a back support belt while lifting heavy weights.
- Regularly perform exercises after following advice from your doctor.
- If you are living a stressful life, consult a mental health professional to try and lessen the levels of stress and anxiety.
- If you are suffering from any muscle injury, use an ice pack to try and reduce any local inflammation.
- You can also use hot fomentation to lessen muscle inflammation.
There are many types of massage treatments that help in the relaxation of trigger points. These are:
- Passive rhythmic release.
- Active rhythmic release.
- Trigger point pressure release.
- Myofascial release.
Massage therapy has the benefit of improving blood flow and warming up muscles. This helps in the reduction of stiffness and easing the pain. More invasive options such as dry needling should be avoided.
Another type of therapy you can try is that of spinal decompression therapy. In addition to relieving pain caused by various spinal disorders and postural problems, it also helps stretch out your back muscles, and can help relieve even cases of chronic back pain.
Spinal decompression therapy can easily be performed from home, without the need of supervision from a professional. It can be done with the help of an orthopaedic device designed to mirror the natural shape of the spine, called the Backrack.
Backrack Spinal Decompression Device
Complications of myofascial pain syndrome are the following:
Symptoms of myofascial back pain can become so severe that it is difficult for the patient to sleep at night. It may be difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position because the myofascial trigger points are stimulated, and thus sleep problems are a rather unpleasant complication of myofascial back pain.
Myofascial pain syndrome can further develop into fibromyalgia in some patients. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that features widespread pain.
Author: Spinal Backrack