What is Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS)?
Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is pain and inflammation in the musculoskeletal system (referred to by most people as “Muscle Pain”). Muscle pain affects everyone at one point or another in their lifetime, however, most often choose to ignore it. However, without proper treatment, MPS becomes a persistent, chronic pain disorder that can disrupt your everyday life.
Myofascial pain syndrome is an underdiagnosed and overlooked condition. It might be mistaken for a problem with your nerves, bones, ligaments or tendons — but it’s not. It’s a problem involving your muscles. There are no tests — no imaging tests, laboratory tests, blood tests, electromyography, or muscle biopsy — that can diagnose myofascial pain syndrome. In addition, there are no visible signs, such as redness, swelling or unusual muscle warmth. In short, myofascial pain syndrome is pain and inflammation of the body’s soft tissues.
The best method your healthcare provider, or the professionals at BPC, can offer to detect this syndrome is to physically examine your muscles — to feel for the taut bands of muscles and then find the exact spots of tenderness. Finding and applying pressure to a trigger point will result in minor pain, felt at the immediate spot or in an area a short distance away (referred pain). Using this technique allows for diagnosis with a minimum amount of discomfort.
The common causes for body pain could be from the following activities:
Causes and disturbances in your everyday life
- Repetitive strain injury – repeatedly doing the same movement, e.g. typing on your keyboard or phone too much.
- Lack of activity or exercise – sitting for long periods at work, not getting up or walking around enough.
- Lack of sleep – MPS will lead to pain in several areas of the body, so a turn in the wrong direction, falling asleep on one arm now becomes a painful daily activity.
- Poor posture – when your joints, muscles, and vertebrae are not in their natural position, this causes a build up of pressure in the tissues, leading to MPS. Examples include sitting up incorrectly, slouching with shoulders hunched forward, carrying something heavy on one side, holding a phone between the neck and shoulder.
- Emotional factors – including stress, depression or anxiety. If you frequently experience stress or anxiety, it can lead to trigger points in the muscle leading to MPS.
- Diet – not getting enough essential vitamins and minerals, often contributes to and exacerbates MPS.
- Tension headaches – MPS, left untreated, causes tension, as well as headaches, without the patient realizing where the pain comes from. Trigger points build up, and over time will affect the brain, resulting in headaches.
Scientific reasons for the pain
- Local twitch response — a muscle spasm resulting from pressure or contact with the affected muscle; your muscles then contract involuntarily.
- Trigger points — tight “knots” in muscles that cause intense localized and referred pain and local twitch response when pressed. You know you have a tight knot when it hurts where you press. There are 4 types of trigger points:
- An active trigger point typically lies within a muscle and pressure applied to it results in local or regional pain.
- A latent trigger point has the potential to be active, but is dormant.
- A secondary trigger point is located in a muscle other than the one that holds the active trigger point. It may or may not be irritated at the same time as the active trigger point.
- A satellite trigger point is one that becomes inactive because it overlaps with the region of another trigger point.
Body Pain FAQs
Sore muscles typically heal within 3 to 7 days, depending on the intensity of the exercise or activity that caused the soreness. Adequate rest and gentle movement can aid in the recovery process.
Yes, gentle stretching can help alleviate muscle soreness. Engaging in light stretching exercises can improve blood flow to the muscles, reduce stiffness, and promote faster recovery.
For acute muscle soreness, a cold bath or ice pack is more beneficial to reduce inflammation. However, for chronic muscle soreness, a warm bath or heating pad can help relax muscles and ease tension.
Yes, muscle pain can be treated through various methods, including rest, heat/cold therapy, over-the-counter pain relievers, massage, and physiotherapy. Identifying the underlying cause of the pain is essential for effective treatment.
The healing time for muscle pain depends on the cause and severity. Mild muscle pain may resolve within a few days, while more significant injuries or conditions may take weeks to heal completely.
Muscle pain can range from mild discomfort to severe and debilitating. In most cases, muscle pain is not serious and improves with self-care and conservative treatments. However, chronic or severe muscle pain may indicate an underlying issue that requires medical attention.
In many cases, mild muscle pain will resolve on its own with rest and appropriate care. However, if the pain persists or worsens, it's essential to seek medical advice to identify and address any underlying problems.
Muscle pain often feels like a dull ache or soreness in a specific area. It might worsen with movement or activity and improve with rest. Muscle pain is usually localized and not accompanied by numbness or tingling sensations.
Physiotherapy can effectively treat muscle weakness by designing targeted exercise programs to strengthen and rehabilitate weakness muscles. Additionally, physiotherapists address the underlying causes of weakness, helping improve overall muscle function.
Physiotherapy manages muscle injuries through various techniques like manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, stretching, and modalities like ultrasound or electrical stimulation. These treatments aim to reduce pain, promote healing, restore flexibility, and improve muscle strength and function.