Similar to headaches, it appears that there is no established etiology for myofascial pain. There are, however, some current hypotheses that could aid in the explanation of myofascial pain symptoms. Muscle damage or repetitive tension, which activate myofascial trigger points, appears to be one underlying cause. The taut band, which is a hardened ropelike stretch of muscle fibers in which triggers are present, is one possible explanation, as well as psychological stressors and physical effort. Both can raise muscle tension along these fibers. Last but not least, postural stressors including poor body posture while seated at a computer and held for extended periods of time may be the source of myofascial pain.
When a muscle’s trigger point is triggered, the muscle fibers constrict, which causes a sensation from trigger point activation that may manifest as referred pain, or pain that originates elsewhere in the body. For instance, a trigger in the muscle that raises the shoulder, the trapezius, might send pain up the shoulder to the neck and head, which can be felt as a headache.
According to theory, there are numerous ways active muscle trigger sites might develop:
- Chronic overuse injury
- Chronically bad posture
- Direct harm
- Long-term heavy lifting
- Regular clenching and muscle tension, as seen in the illustration to the right
- Persistent idleness
The muscle fibers that contain trigger points tighten to form a taut band that keeps the muscle in a constant state of contraction when the trigger point becomes active as a result of injury or irregular use. In turn, the muscle weakens and stiffens and may even entrap nearby nerves, causing additional discomfort sensations including numbness and soreness. If untreated, the neighboring muscles may eventually work too hard trying to compensate for the inefficiencies of the injured muscle. Trigger points may form in these overworked muscles, leading to intricate networks of referred pain and myofascial pain patterns.
Latent trigger sites may also exist inside the muscular structure. In these circumstances, pressure placed directly on the trigger point causes the most discomfort. If the muscle in which a latent trigger point is located is worsened by an injury, excessive use, disease, or stress, the trigger point may become active.
Myofascial Pain Risk Groups
The following groups are at a higher risk of developing myofascial pain syndrome, despite the fact that no specific cause of myofascial pain has been identified:
- Women: Compared to males, women are more likely to have active myofascial trigger points (55 percent of women have latent trigger points against 45 percent of men).
- Middle-aged people: The most common age for the onset of chronic myofascial pain is middle age. It is thought that muscles are better able to withstand the pressure of tension and overuse when they are younger.
- Injury: Risk factors for the development or activation of myofascial trigger points include injury, trauma, and disease.
- Stressed: Stress or anxiety can cause a person to become more tense in their muscles, which can worsen a myofascial trigger point.
- Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle or prolonged periods of poor posture, such as those spent at a desk, can weaken and strain muscles, increasing the likelihood of developing a myofascial trigger point.
An individual has a lesser chance of the illness if they have strong, well-conditioned muscles that can readily perform daily tasks. As a result, it is critical to maintain your health and level of activity in order to safeguard yourself from pain and injury. A person’s diet may not cause myofascial pain directly, but being overweight increases the risk because carrying extra weight puts strain on the muscles.
Everyone has a small chance of developing myofascial pain symptoms, but risk factors can be decreased by improving physical and mental health generally and in a variety of ways. For additional details on myofascial pain, get in touch with Garden State Orofacial Pain.