Get Help For Myofascial Pain Syndrome With A Personalized Chiropractic Care Plan & PEMF Therapy
“Why does this knot in my upper back cause my neck to hurt?” “Is the tenderness I feel in my shoulder related to fibromyalgia or something different?” “Why are there times when my muscles are so tight and tender and other times I feel nothing?”
These can be some of the common questions that a person might ask themselves when they experience a condition known as myofascial pain syndrome. This is also referred to as MPS for short. Physicians have been stumped for decades in differentiating MPS and fibromyalgia (FM). There are some particular symptoms that can discriminate between the two that we will discuss shortly.
What Are The Causes Of Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
Most of the reasons that people acquire MPS is due to prolonged or sudden muscle imbalance that creates the “taut bands” or “knots” in muscles. These causes and risk factors include:
- Emotional stress (anxiety and depression)
- Muscle injury (due to overuse such as using a mouse or keyboard or prolonged writing)
- Sudden injury to a muscle (ex: slip or fall)
- Poor posture
- Working in cold environments
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Hormonal changes
What Are The Symptoms Of Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
MPS is a chronic pain disorder much like fibromyalgia but the difference is the type of “points” that are created by MPS. Fibromyalgia is known for its tender points on certain spots on the body whereas MPS is defined by “trigger points”. These points are not only tender but also cause referred pain when pressure is applied.
Regions of the body most commonly affected by MPS are the lower back, neck, jaw and shoulders. Tight areas of muscle or knots can be shoulder around the shoulder blades and when pressure is applied the pain can travel to the neck, shoulder or arm. The pain felt is usually deep and achy in nature. It can persist for lengths of time and worsen to the point when sleeping and activity become very difficult.
How Is MPS Diagnosed?
A proper physical examination has been shown to be the most effective tool in diagnosing MPS. Pressing on the knots in particular muscles can elicit a muscle response or twitch. Also the referred pain can be felt in other regions of the body when pressure is applied as well. Muscle testing is also important because in some cases the muscles associated with MPS have less range of motion.
Weakness and stiffness of the muscles can also be seen during the exam. In some situations there may be additional testing required to rule out other conditions. These tests include blood work, electromyograms (EMG) or even a MRI. These are all necessary in the event that the diagnosis of MPS is not conclusive and muscle wasting or severe weakness is seen.
What Are Treatments For Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
Following a thorough consult, examination and x-rays it can be helpful to align the spine properly with consistent chiropractic adjustments. One of the main causes of MPS is muscle imbalancing which is due to repetitive stress to the body. Proper alignment of the spine will allow the muscles to become relaxed and balanced. This will remove “tautness” in the muscles and a reduction of regionalized pain. Corrective exercises to help stabilize the spine are also important in helping to maintain proper balance in the body’s musculature.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF)
This type of therapy can be useful in helping to accelerate the healing process of the body’s soft tissues such as muscle tendons and ligaments. MPS is a chronic condition so over time the muscles of the body become more inflamed and irritated. The cells that create all of our soft tissues are at a lower energy due to the MPS. The PEMF therapy will help to exercise cells of the body and bring them to a higher energy. This created an accelerated healing process by allowing the body to heal faster. PEMF therapy is very effective in conjunction with chiropractic care because it allows for the removal of toxins and releases a good amount of endorphins. This helps to decrease stress and anxiety on the central nervous system and in turn will lead to better healing.
One of the main causes of MPS is prolonged muscle imbalancing. In the event home exercises are not as effective then a consult from a physical therapist may be necessary. Along with performing certain exercises for the affected area there are therapies like myofascial release and ischemic compression that can be useful. Both of these treatments work by applying direct pressure to the knots and taut bands in the muscle. This will help to reduce the intensity of the triggered point. The result is a decrease in referred pain to regions of the body.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs)
These have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of MPS in the short-term but are not helpful for long-term healing. This type of medication should be under the recommendation of your healthcare provider.
What Can Be Done At Home To Help With Symptoms Of MPS?
Warm, moist compresses or hot showers/warm baths can help to relax tight muscles. In some cases, ice has been shown to be effective as well but is usually a person's preference based on which therapy helps better with reducing pain symptoms.
People with increased anxiety and depression can acquire MPS so certain alternatives should be sought out to help reduce stress levels. Techniques like yoga, biofeedback, breathing exercises and meditations are all great forms of relaxation. By using these to control stress in the body it will cause less cortisol (a stress hormone) to be produced in the body. This action will give the nervous system a chance to relax as well which in turn creates better healing from MPS.
ExerciseA combination of weighted activity, stretching and cardiovascular exercise has been shown to be helpful with MPS. It is best to seek out the advice of your chiropractor, physical therapist or personal trainer for an effective workout regimen.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of drugs & pain.
Let CORE Chiropractic help you get back on track with personalized chiropractic care, PEMF therapy, and a custom treatment plan. Call today for your consultation, or schedule an appointment.