What are the Most Common Causes of Chronic Myofascial Pain?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2018
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Chronic myofascial pain is a painful medical condition affecting the muscles in the body as well as the protective sheath surrounding the muscles called the fascia. This condition may affect one single muscle or several groups of muscles. The exact cause of this disorder is frequently unknown, although stress and overuse of the muscles are often considered to be contributing causes of chronic myofascial pain. Common symptoms include muscle pain and weakness, numbness or tingling sensations, and trouble sleeping. Treatment options typically involve the use of over-the-counter and prescription medications, physical therapy, and massage therapy.

Fibromyalgia is widely believed to be the leading cause of chronic myofascial pain. Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that causes symptoms such as muscle pain, fatigue, and insomnia. Chronic myofascial pain is present in many patients who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Referred pain from trigger points is the most common indicator of chronic myofascial pain. This referred pain is diagnosed when the doctor presses on a certain part of the body, known as a trigger point, and the pain is felt in a different area of the body.


Muscle injuries such as sprains or strains also may cause chronic myofascial pain. Joint injuries, especially those that cause pressure on the surrounding nerves, may also lead to this condition. In some cases, when the original injury has healed, the pain will go away. In other cases, the pain may continue to be a problem, though it may come and go randomly.

Some medical conditions, such as stomach irritation or heart disease, may sometimes cause chronic myofascial pain. Lack of muscle activity may also lead to this type of pain. The condition often resolves on its own once the original cause has been properly treated.

Medication is often used to help ease the symptoms of chronic myofascial pain. Over-the-counter pain medications may help provide some pain relief in mild cases, but prescription-strength medications are often needed. Muscle relaxants may also be prescribed to help relax the muscles and provide some degree of pain relief. In more severe cases, steroid medications may be injected directly into the trigger points.

Physical therapy also may be recommended for patients with myofascial pain. Gentle exercises can often prevent and relieve muscle tension and provide pain relief. Massage therapy often helps relieve muscle spasms and helps relax the affected muscles. A doctor can help the patient develop an individualized treatment plan based upon specific symptoms as well as the patient's overall health.



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