Myofascial pain syndrome is a condition of the spine characterized by pain coming from muscles and the connective tissues between the muscles. The connective tissues are called fascia. Myofascial pain syndrome can lead to further back and neck problems if left untreated. If serious, the Florida Knee and Orthopedic Center can treat myofascial pain with trigger point injections. Trigger point injections are used to break up the most troublesome areas and to decrease pain.
A local anesthetic, such as novocaine, is injected into the trigger points. Pain is quickly relieved, allowing trouble spots to be deactivated and treated more easily with physical therapy. Before you try trigger point injections there are a number of things you can do on your own. However, you want to be sure to avoid these five mistakes.
1. Not recognizing the pain that might be myofascial pain syndrome:
People often think their pain is coming from somewhere else such as arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, etc. Even if you have one of these, the pain could be coming from your muscles. Back, neck, shoulder pain, and headaches can all come from trigger points. Trigger points are the painful areas that are often felt as tender “knots” in the muscles. When pressed, these areas are exceptionally painful and may even cause pain to shoot down the arms and legs. The knots are called trigger points and are the most difficult areas to stretch. Trigger points can be relieved with simple pressure techniques and gentle movements.
2. Not realizing you can do something about myofascial pain syndrome:
Many people believe they have to suffer from myofascial pain syndrome, but that’s not true. Gentle exercises and stretching help decrease pain along with eliminate stress from your life. It has also been found that smoking increases myofascial pain syndrome. Poor sleeping patterns must also be corrected. Studies are additionally being done that show positive results with biofeedback.
3. Believing the muscle is “weak” and trying to strengthen it:
This is a common misunderstanding about muscles. When a muscle is in pain, yes, it does become “weak”. The muscle becomes painfully contracted, and can’t lengthen to its full capacity. When a muscle can’t lengthen to its full capacity, it can’t fully contract, so it appears “weak.” Strength is demonstrated by how well a muscle can contract. To get strength back in a painful muscle, first, you must get the tension (i.e. trigger points) to release. Then you need to lengthen the muscle, by having the muscle go through its range of motion. When the range of motion is comfortable, and the length of the muscle is restored, the muscle will have the capacity for contraction again, and strength will return. Then you can add strengthening exercises if you want to. Don’t do strengthening exercises when the muscle is in pain. It will only add contraction and pain to the already painfully contracted muscle.
4. Stretching too hard:
You’ve learned all about trigger points and you know you need to stretch, but don’t over-do it! Your muscles have learned to be tight, and now they need to learn how to be loose! Stretch too hard and your muscles will rebound and tighten back up and you will end up in more pain. Only allow your muscles to move in a comfortable range of motion and do it throughout the day. If possible, take a hot shower for 10 minutes prior to stretching to loosen the muscles and then keep the muscles warm afterward.
5. Overdoing it when they are feeling better
Often when people are feeling better they try to take on the world. They clean the house, mow the lawn, paint the bedroom and wash the cars—only to be miserable the next day. Muscles need time to heal. Pain can go away quickly with the right treatment, but it really takes a few weeks of light activity to give your muscles time to regroup. Pamper yourself and stick to the light stretching while your body takes time to heal!