(Health Secrets) If you have chronic muscle pain, you have probably heard a physician say: “I’m looking at the x-rays and the MRI. I don’t see any thing wrong. There is nothing we can do for you except send you to a pain management clinic.” You go to pain management and their solutions are drugs that cloud the mind, destroy the bones, and ruin the liver. Or worse yet, they recommend destroying some of your nerves. It may be time to get empowered by learning about myofascial pain syndrome.
When you experience a deep aching muscle pain, a tender knotted muscle, a sensation of muscle weakness, tingling, stiffness, or difficulty sleeping due to muscle pain that persists or worsens over time, the name for the problem is probably myofascial pain syndrome (MPS). Fascia is the soft connective tissue located just below the skin, which wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels of the body. Fascia can become twisted and the result can be debilitating pain.
The fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can also become stuck together creating an adhesion. Adhesions restrict muscle movement, create pain and soreness, reduce flexibility, and may limit range of motion.
The normal, healthy state of fascia is a relaxed supple web, like the weave in a loose-knit sweater. Restricted fascia looses pliability and may create pulls, tensions, and pressure as great as 2,000 pounds per square inch. The fascia system is continuous, running from the bottom of the feet through the top of the head, and it has three layers.
Superficial fascia lies directly below the skin and stores fat and water. Nerves run through it too, allowing muscles to move the skin. Deep fascia surrounds and infuses with muscle, bone, nerves, and blood vessels. The deepest fascia interfaces within the durra of the cranial sacral (spinal) system.
Irregularities or restrictions of the fascia at any point can produce significant malfunction of the spinal structure, lymph and blood flow, and organ function. Fascia problems do not show up on MRI scans or X-rays, making diagnosis difficult.
Understanding trigger points
Adding to myofascial pain may be tight fibers in muscles that have been injured or overused, creating sensitive areas called trigger points. A trigger point causes strain and pain throughout the muscle, and other muscles to try to compensate. Over time this pattern of compensation creates further muscle strain creating a cascading chronic pain.
Trigger points are highly sensitive areas within the muscle, and are painful to touch and may cause pain that is often felt in another area of the body, a situation referred to as referred pain. Active trigger points are always sore and may prevent full use of the muscle, leading to weakness and decreased range of motion. A latent trigger point does not cause pain during normal activities, however, it is tender when touched and may be activated by muscle strain, overwork, fatigue, injury or cold.
Other factors that increase risk of muscle trigger points are stress and anxiety. The theory is that some individuals, when stressed, are more likely to clench their muscles, which is a form of repeated strain leaving muscles susceptible to trigger points.
One way to deal with this pain is with a type of massage therapy typically done by sports and rehabilitative massage therapists. This kind of massage can also be effective in treating patients with poor posture, chronic fatigue, severe tension and anxiety, and repetitive stress injuries.
Research suggests that myofascial pain syndrome may develop into fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that features widespread pain and is believed to occur when the brain has become more sensitive and reactive to pain signals over time.
Often physical therapy is recommended for MPS, which includes stretching, postural and strengthening exercises.
Are you continuing to contribute to your pain?
It is important to address lifestyle factors, such as poor posture, workplace ergonomics, mechanical problems, thyroid status, and vitamin D and magnesium levels, as well as the stress that contributes to pain.
Lifestyle factors to consider are:
• Improve posture
• Reduce body weight
• Exercise regularly
• Eat a healthy well-balanced diet
• Learn stress-management techniques
• Use proper techniques at work and during exercise and sports
Self care aims to control pain and keep muscles and joints warm and loose. It includes:
*Anti-inflammatory pain relievers (herbs such as white willow bark and boswellia)
*Applying heat to soothe constricted muscles or using ice to calm swollen areas
*Performing self-stretching exercises to maintain flexibility and increase range of motion
*Doing aerobic exercise to increase blood flow to the affected areas
Other possible treatments include:
The rehabilitative massage therapist may use light to moderate traction, and twisting strokes to apply the appropriate tension on the soft tissue to achieve a full reflex range of the muscle and to unblock fascia and muscle. The therapist may also use hands-on kneading-style strokes that are meant to stretch, loosen, soften and lengthen muscle tissues. The stretch is performed until the muscle is totally relaxed and a release is felt.
Does our height need to shrink as we age? Do we need to have age related scoliosis, curvature of the spine? Many body workers, massage therapists say no. They know from the daily practice of their profession that through massage and myofascial stretching people can regain height. There is a theory that some of the shrinking in spinal discs results from the contraction of the fascia—pressing on the discs and not allowing proper hydration.
Massage is almost always essential to healthy aging. And myofascial massage is essential to anyone with chronic muscle pain.
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