Muscle pain is experienced by most people from time to time. When that pain is long-lasting, it can be myofascial pain syndrome, which affects the connective tissue, known as fascia, of a muscle or group of muscles.
Myofascial pain is a common syndrome. It occurs in about 85% of people sometime during their life. If you have myofascial pain syndrome, you may feel pain and tenderness in muscles in a specific area of your body. This pain and tenderness is often related to one or more “trigger points” in fascia or a tight muscle.
To the touch, trigger points feel like small bumps, nodules, or knots in your muscle.
With myofascial pain, pressure on the sensitive trigger points causes pain in the muscle. Sometimes “referred pain” can also occur in seemingly unrelated parts of your body.
This syndrome typically occurs after repetitive muscle motions in jobs or hobbies or by stress-related muscle tension.
While nearly everyone has experienced muscle tension pain, the discomfort associated with myofascial pain syndrome persists or worsens. Treatment options include physical therapy and trigger point injections. Pain medications and relaxation techniques also can help.
The symptoms of myofascial pain can vary widely. Sometimes pain can “flare-up” and happen suddenly. For others, it is a constant, dull pain that lingers in the background.
Symptoms may include:
- Deep aching, throbbing, tight, stiff or vice-like pain.
- The appearance of trigger point small bumps, nodules, or knots that are painful when touched or sometimes when not touched.
- Muscles that are tender or sore.
- Weakness in affected muscles.
- Reduced range of motion areas of the body that are impacted.
Some of the causes of myofascial pain syndrome may include:
- Muscle injury.
- Muscle strain or repetitive muscle use during tasks such as hammering.
- Muscle weakness.
- Muscle atrophy from lack of activity, such as not enough movement when your limb is in a cast.
- Poor posture.
- Working in or living in a cold environment.
- Muscle tension from emotional stress.
- Pinched nerves.