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When the Pain Goes Beyond a Strained Muscle

Almost everyone has experienced the pain of a strained muscle. The discomfort lasts a short time, and then goes away. However, if it doesn’t go away and you experience increased muscular pain or pain that becomes chronic the problem may be myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).

Understanding MPS

The symptoms of MPS include aching pain deep within the muscle, as well as muscle and joint stiffness. Whether you’re young or old, you can have a problem with MPS, which can result from muscular injury or overuse at work or when you are engaged in sports like tennis or biking. If you sit hunched over a computer for hours at a time, for example, you may develop MPS because postures that are not ergonomically correct can lead to myofascial pain. Acute injuries such as those that occur in car accidents can also result in MPS. Some people experience MPS as a result of conditions such as spinal arthritis or scoliosis (curvature of the spine).

Whatever the cause, understanding MPS, and seeking care from a physician experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of pain will help you get the relief you need.

Recognizing MPS

The most common feature of MPS is the development of focal areas of tenderness, also called trigger points. Trigger points often appear as firm nodules in the muscle tissue, and can be extremely sensitive to touch. However, when the offending muscle is stretched, or when pressure is applied to it, you may experience what is called referred pain. For example, a trigger point in the trapezius muscle that spans the neck, shoulders, and back can cause referred pain such as headache pain. Another example of referred pain can be experienced when a trigger point in the shoulder causes pain to radiate down the arm. Another case in point involves the piriformis muscle located deep, in the buttock, which is a common source of leg pain or sciatica.

MPS Treatments Offer Relief

Getting the relief you need from the symptoms of MPS begins with a thorough examination by an experienced pain physician who will conduct a number of tests to pinpoint the source of your problem. For example, there may be a change in the texture of the muscle tissue that can be detected by palpating the muscle during a simple office examination.

If you are diagnosed with MPS, there are a number of treatments that can relieve your pain. The most conservative treatments for MPS are physical therapy, passive stretching exercises, and massage to relax the affected muscles.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is another treatment option. TENS involves a mild, pain-free electrical current relieves pain and can be used in combination with other treatments.

Medications like muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs are also used to control myofascial pain.

Trigger point injections are another treatment option, which involve introducing an anesthetic or an anesthetic combined with anti-inflammatory medication directly into the trigger point to relieve pain and soothe inflammation.

MPS can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. It’s important to have a highly qualified specialist with a full range of treatments and resources understand your specific pain and identify a customized treatment plan for your unique needs.

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