Myofascial Pain Syndrome & Neck Pain
Myofascial Pain Syndrome & Neck Pain in Thousand Oaks, CA
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a common and chronic pain disorder that affects your muscles and fascia. “Myo” meaning muscle, and “fascial” implying the fascia. The fascia is the thin layer of connective tissue that attaches, encloses, and separates muscles from neighboring internal organs.
You may likely feel pressure and/or tenderness on certain points in your muscles if you are experiencing myofascial pain. This pain or tenderness in specific locations is referred to as trigger points. You may identify them with relative ease as they tend to feel like small bumps or knots in your muscle.
The trigger point or “knot” is a collection of muscle fibers that remain contracted for extended periods. Blood flow through those areas stops; this causes a buildup of waste materials and decreased oxygen in those areas. The combination of these events is responsible for the pain and discomfort you may be feeling. In some patients, when pressure is applied to a trigger point, it may cause pain in other body areas; this is called referred pain.
Myofascial pain syndrome may occur in areas such as the lower and upper back, in the neck, shoulders, and chest.
While most individuals experience some form of muscle tension throughout their lives, what separates MPS is its persistence and progressively debilitating nature. Myofascial pain syndrome does not resolve on its own and requires treatment for any meaningful relief.
What Causes Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
Healthcare professionals have yet to discover the precise cause of MPS. Possible causes include:
- Injury to the muscles or muscle fibers of your body (e.g., trauma, excessive exercise)
- Repetitive motions during work or hobbies (e.g., drilling, hammering, typing)
- Poor posture
- Inactivity of muscle groups (e.g., weakness in limbs post-stroke, arm, or leg after prolonged cast placement)
- Cold environments (e.g., sitting near air conditioning, living in cold weather)
- Lack of exercise or movement
- Muscle tension due to stress, anxiety, or depression
- Pinched nerves
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Chronic infections
What are the Common Symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
Symptoms vary from patient to patient as several factors can influence each individual’s location and/or intensity of pain. More often than not, patients experience a combination of symptoms.
Symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome include but are not limited to:
- Muscles that are sensitive or tender to the touch
- Muscle pain that is localized and feels deep, throbbing, burning, and/or aching
- Limited range of motion in muscles that may be weak, stiff, or are inflexible
- The presence of trigger points in muscles
- Muscle pain that worsens with passing time
- Difficulty sleeping due to the persistent pain
Other health problems associated with myofascial pain include tension headaches, depression, sleep disorders, and fatigue feelings.
How is Myofascial Pain Syndrome Diagnosed?
At Vascular Neurology of Southern California, our highly trained physicians know how difficult and frustrating it can be to efficiently diagnose myofascial pain syndrome. The pain associated with MPS is often incorrectly attributed to issues with your joints, ligaments, nerves, and/or bones; as such, our physicians take extra care during your consultation to ensure a comprehensive review of your symptoms and experience.
During your consultation, your physician will perform a physical exam during which they may gently apply pressure to the problemed areas.
Because there are no concrete tests that may be done to diagnose MPS explicitly, you must arrive at the meeting prepared to describe your experience in great detail. Try to list all possible pertinent information regarding your pain, i.e., your previous injuries, pre-existing conditions, diet and exercise habits, physical activities you perform at work or for your hobbies, etc.
To ensure a proper diagnosis, further examinations may be required, such as imaging, diagnostic exams, visual exams, and interviews.
What Treatment Options are Available for Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
Unfortunately, there is not a single action plan that suits all patients suffering from myofascial pain syndrome. Each individual will likely have their own unique set of circumstances that impact their MPS experience. For that reason, you will work closely with your expert physician to derive a treatment plan tailored to your personal needs.
Depending on your level of pain and discomfort, treatment options of varying longevity include:
Trigger point injections:
At Vascular Neurology of Southern California, our physicians are artfully trained to treat various disorders by providing trigger point injections. This procedure is associated with the efficient and swift inactivation of trigger points. It provides immediate pain relief for myofascial pain syndrome patients. Trigger point injections also offer the most prolonged and sustainable pain relief when compared to all other options. Recurring injections will be required as the effects of the injections are temporary. Most patients schedule their appointments anywhere between 2.5 to 3 months apart.
During the procedure, you will likely sit or lie down; your physician will gently put pressure on your muscles to locate your trigger points. Your physician will then insert a small, thin needle into the localized spots to inject either an anesthetic or Botulinum toxin, commonly referred to as Botox. These injections may be used for any problematic area (e.g., back of the neck, shoulders, sternum, lower back, arms, and legs). It is uncommon to experience complications during this procedure. Occasionally patients will report soreness at the injection site.
Different medications may be recommended to ease myofascial pain syndrome symptoms, including certain over-the-counter pain relievers (e.g., Ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, etc.). Prescription medications may be helpful like antidepressants, sedatives, opioids, anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants, or steroids. You and your physician will need to discuss each option’s benefits and disadvantages to ascertain what will work best for you.
Myofascial pain syndrome may require you to engage in some form of therapy; some standard options include physical therapy (exercises to strengthen and stretch muscles), ultrasound therapy (which uses sound waves to disturb the knot), or massage. Some patients benefit from applying heat to reduce symptoms of pain, acupuncture, and meditation.
Changes in lifestyle habits:
It is possible that during your visit, you and your physician will discuss behavior modifications to help alleviate your discomfort. Specific lifestyle changes are known to benefit individuals impacted by myofascial pain syndrome. Increased physical activity, posture changes during work, sleep habits, and dietary changes to reduce inflammation are just some of the minor actions that may lead to positive results.
Finding relief from myofascial pain syndrome is possible by reaching out to a team of expert specialists. We have locations in Thousand Oaks, West Hills, and Lancaster, and we proudly serve Los Angeles County, Ventura County, and Southern California. Contact us or call 805.242.4884 to schedule your appointment today.
Neck pain is a prevalent medical condition among adults though it can affect individuals of all ages. While most individuals may experience occasional stiffness or soreness in the neck, prolonged and worsening pain can indicate serious injury or illness and may require physician intervention.
The neck is a relatively large surface area. It is made of vertebrae that span from your skull to the upper torso. Neck pain can impact any of the bones, tissues, or muscles responsible for your range of motion. Your pain may be acute or chronic; in any capacity, this condition can significantly limit or interfere with your daily life.
In some cases, neck pain is indicative of a more severe disorder, but most of the time, neck pain can be treated by non-invasive treatment options for nearly immediate relief.
What are the Possible Causes of Neck Pain?
There are quite a few reasons you may be experiencing back pain; most individuals likely have multiple causes to their discomfort.
Some possible causes of neck pain include:
- Muscle strain and tension (e.g., due to poor posture, sitting behind a desk for a long time, poor sleeping position, poor technique during exercises)
- Injury (e.g., from unexpected force such as a car accident or a fall, sports-related impact, whiplash)
- Various types of arthritis (e.g., osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis)
- Nerve compression (e.g., due to herniated disc, spinal stenosis, pinched nerve)
- Lifestyle habits (e.g., stress and anxiety, excessive weight, repetitive motions, improper heavy lifting)
What are the Symptoms of Neck Pain?
Signs and symptoms of neck pain include:
- Neck muscles may feel stiff, tender, or sore
- Trigger point or knots
- Tingling or numbness in the shoulders, neck, and arms
- Reduced mobility
- Weakness of the upper extremities
- Severe and sharp neck pain that does not have a specific cause
- Fever, throat pain, and/or nausea
How is Neck Pain Diagnosed?
At Vascular Neurology of Southern California, you will meet with your expertly trained physician for a preliminary physical exam and interview. Your physician will likely apply a little pressure on your neck to locate the pain and/or may have you perform a few motions to determine your range.
The best way to prepare for your initial visit is to arrive ready to discuss any pertinent information about your neck pain. Information such as a catalog of your pre-existing conditions, previous injuries, any events that were sudden and involved impact may be necessary to mention to your physician.
Your physician may want to order imaging test to determine the cause of your pain; this may be an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI. Other tests that may be done include an EMG (electromyography), lumbar puncture, and/or blood work.
How is Neck Pain Treated?
Depending on the length of time and severity of the neck pain you have been experiencing, your treatment may include one or a combination of the options listed below. Your neck pain is unique to your circumstances and body. Because of this, personalized treatment planning will be required. Based on your preferences and physician recommendation, we will prepare a targeted action plan to suit your needs.
Treatment options include:
Some over-the-counter and prescription medication such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, nerve pain medications, and/or opioids. These may help you manage the neck pain, reduce the inflammation, reduce sleep issues that you may be experiencing and decrease the frequency of any muscle spasms.
A few therapy options will be discussed during your visit with a Vascular Neurology of Southern California physician. The common forms of physical therapy offered include deep tissue massage, hot and cold therapies, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), traction, and ultrasound. Your physician may also recommend meditation, acupuncture, and manual manipulation.
Trigger Point Injections
Depending on your diagnosis, your physician may offer a minimally invasive procedure called trigger point injections. This procedure involves small injections of either local anesthetics or Botox to various neck areas to help block the nerve signals that cause muscle spasms. This procedure takes minutes, and the results are instantaneous. Trigger point injections are a temporary form of pain relief and require recurring office visits to sustain the results. Typically, patients will schedule their appointments 2.5 to 3 months apart.
If you are interested in learning more about potential treatments for neck pain, we invite you to schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians. We have locations in Thousand Oaks, West Hills, and Lancaster, and we proudly serve Los Angeles County, Ventura County, and Southern California.