By: Arvie C. Vitente MPH, PTRP
Do you have pain on the upper back that really bothers you to the point of experiencing sleeplessness ? Do you also have annoying nodules at the upper back area? These are some of the manifestations of Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS).
MPS is a chronic condition that mostly affects the skeletal muscles of the upper back area which has a manifestation of moderate to severe pain. There are also trigger points present which are painful every time they are pressed and referred to other areas of the body. This condition is associated with fibromyalgia.
Difference between MPS and Fibromyalgia
MPS and fibromyalgia both affect skeletal muscles but MPS affects muscles on one side of the body and specifically on the area around the shoulders and neck. On the other hand, fibromyalgia affects skeletal muscles on a broader distribution. It affects the trunk and below the trunk regions and both sides unlike MPS.
Causes of MPS
The exact cause of MPS is still not known. There are is a theory associating it to connective tissue diseases but this is much generalized. Aside from that theory, there are no more other theories explaining the cause of it.
Treatment for MPS
Physical therapy is indicated to persons with MPS. It includes the application of hot moist packs (HMP) on the area affected with placing electrodes attached on a machine called TENS or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation which help to decrease the pain on the part of the body affected.
This will be applied for 20 minutes. The theory behind the application of hot to the body part affected is that hot application will cause increase in the size of the passageway of blood brought by relaxation of the smooth muscle wall of the blood vessels.
Increase in the size of the passageway of blood causes increase in blood flow to the area that leads to flushing away of the pain metabolites.
The TENS machine blocks the pain pathway that is why pain is decreased. After the application of HMP and TENS, deep kneading massage (DKM) and myofascial release (MR) will follow. DKM targets the nodules, which are considered as the trigger points; it will cause relief of pain after this type of massage.
MR targets the fascia or the connective tissue that holds the muscles, to allow relaxation of the muscles affected. Gentle passive stretching (GPS) will be given right after the above procedures. GPS is focused on the muscles affected to maintain their flexibility.
Every pain affecting any part of the body will cause decrease in the productivity and/or general performance of the person. MPS causes pain on the skeletal muscles affected and this will for sure lead to poor performance.
Understanding the causes of MPS is necessary to know on how to prevent it from occurring. Keep in mind that prevention is better than cure. Physical therapy is really an effective management for MPS.
If MPS will not be managed immediately, it could make you very irritable because of the pain thus, will affect your relationship with your partner or children. If you have the manifestations of MPS, consider consulting a physiatrist today for referral to a physical therapy clinic. Remember, it is worthy to be healthy!