Chronic myofascial pain (CMP) is a chronic pain disease characterized by trigger points in the musculature causing pain in distinct areas of the body. Pain symptoms of CMP can be severe and debilitating. Research suggests that symptoms are derived from the existence of trigger points within muscles, which are activated by injury or repetitive strain to muscles causing localized decrease of blood flow and build-up of pain signaling chemicals.
Psychological stressors and physical strain may also increase muscle tension along fibers creating trigger points . Myofascial pain may also originate from postural stressors, such as poor body posture at a desk, held for prolonged periods.
- Pain associated with myofascial pain is usually experienced as dull aching of a muscle and the associated muscle group
- Referred pain, or pain experienced at a site adjacent or not near the originating trigger point, is also common
- This referred pain can make diagnosis difficult as the site of the pain is not the source of the pain
- Cervical spine (neck) range of motion (ROM) is often limited and painful
- The patient may describe pain radiating into the upper extremities, accompanied by numbness and tingling, making discrimination from radiculopathy or peripheral nerve impingement difficult
- Dizziness or nausea may be a part of the symptomatology
- The patient experiences typical patterns of radiating pain referred from trigger points
Chronic myofascial pain symptoms can be mistaken for a large number of other disorders, so a thorough physical examination is required for proper diagnosis of this largely not understood disease.
Several treatment options, including physical therapy, oral appliances, and medications, can be leveraged as part of a comprehensive management plan.