Causes of Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Causes of Myofascial Pain Syndrome


Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is typically defined as a chronic local or regional musculoskeletal disorder, involving a single muscle or a muscle group.

The pain associated with MPS most commonly occurs in the head, neck, shoulders, arms, legs and lower back. Such pain of the Myofascial Pain Syndrome might be of a burning, stabbing, aching or nagging quality.

Trigger Points

The pain related to the Myofascial Pain Syndrome most commonly arises from the development of trigger points.

These trigger points develop in the linings of the muscles, called myofascia. The myofascia is a film that wraps around the muscle fibers to give them shape and support.

In other words, trigger points are basically the discrete, hyperirritable spots located in a taut band of skeletal muscle. These spots are painful on compression and can produce referred pain, referred tenderness, motor dysfunction and autonomic phenomena.

These trigger points are extremely sore spots and can be found throughout the body. Such trigger points are mainly of four types:

Active trigger point: This is an area of extreme tenderness that usually lies within the skeletal muscle and is associated with a local or regional pain.

Latent trigger point: This is basically a dormant or inactive area that can act as an active trigger point.

Secondary trigger point: This is a highly irritable spot in a muscle that can become active due to a trigger point and muscular overload in another molecule.

Satellite myofascial point: This is also a highly irritable spot in a muscle that becomes inactive as the muscle is in the region of another trigger pain.

Research Findings

A series of research reports highlight the possible causes of the occurrence of the Myofascial Pain Syndrome.

To begin with, a group of researchers suggest that physical or emotional trauma might play a leading role in the development of this syndrome. It has also been suggested that the patients suffering from MPS have abnormal pain transmission responses.

However, another section of reports indicate that sleep disturbances, which are a common symptom of MPS, might actually be one of the causative factors. Changes in skeletal muscle metabolism, which could be caused by a decreased blood flow could also be one of the factors.

In addition, a few researchers also point towards the possibility of the presence of an infectious microbe, such as a virus, that might trigger the illness.

In the following section, we’ve discussed the possible causes of Myofascial Pain Syndrome in detail.

Causative Factors

A series of physical, psychological and other related factors contribute towards the development of Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Here we’ve given a brief description of each one of them.

A) Muscle and Skeletal Problems

The myofascial pain is most commonly caused by a trauma to the muscles and skeleton in the body. Overexertion of the muscles can cause serious damage to certain areas, leading to the development of a trigger point. The main muscle and skeletal problems which can cause the Myofascial Pain Syndrome include:

Poor posture, leading to muscular problems Skeletal abnormalities, e.g. having different sized feet, toes and legs Frequent exposure to extreme cold weather

B) Fibromyalgia

Many times, individuals with fibromyalgia also develop the Myofascial Pain Syndrome. There are two main factors associated with fibromyalgia that cause the symptoms of MPS to develop. Read on for a brief explanation of each one of them.

Chronic fibromyalgia pain:

In an effort to compensate for the chronic pain of fibromyalgia, the patient often reduces movement or develops an unhealthy posture, which further leads to formation of the trigger points. In addition, the severe pain caused by fibromyalgia causes muscle contractions around the tender points, which are also referred to as guarding.

Finally, these muscle contractions can cause the trigger points to form, adding on to the tender points of fibromyalgia.

Depression associated with fibromyalgia:

The depression that occurs in the condition of fibromyalgia is also an important causative factor. Research shows that at least 30% of patients with fibromyalgia suffer from depression. This further causes lower levels of serotonin in the brain, which is basically a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood and pain in the body.

Hence, in such cases, depression might interfere with the process of regulating pain, leading to the development of Myofascial Pain Syndrome.

Other Causes

There are a series of other causes responsible for the development of the Myofascial Pain Syndrome. These include:

Injury to the intervertebral disc Excessive fatigue Repetitive motions Medical conditions such as heart attack or stomach irritation Inactivity (for instance, broken arm in a sling)

Fibromyalgia Case Reports and Information Sources