Chronic myofascial pain is different from the occasional muscle soreness created by an extra challenging workout or a weekend of painting. Myofascial pain syndrome is ongoing, with pain being sent from sensitive areas known as trigger points in certain muscles or connective tissues to other -- seemingly unrelated -- areas of your body.
Dr. Robert Bennett reports in "Myofascial Pain Syndromes and their Evaluation" for Best Practices Clinical Research Rheumatology that while symptoms have been described in medical literature for the past century, it's only recently that objective abnormalities have been revealed by scientific studies.
What Causes Symptoms
The most common cause is repeated contraction of a muscle, which could be due to physical, mental or emotional stress as well as to repetitive motion. This taut band of muscle restricts the full range of motion, says Dr. Bennett, and refers pain centrifugally when stimulated.
Myofascial pain affects men and women equally, even though more women than men suffer from fibromyalgia, and the same treatment works equally well for both genders. If you feel a muscle knot or deep ache that gets steadily worse, regular myofascial massage therapy might provide relief.
Relaxing Contracted Muscles
At Massage Envy, our professional therapists are experienced in addressing the pain that comes from chronic muscle contraction. Depending on your individual needs, myofascial massage treatment might include:
- Deep Tissue Massage -- targets knots and releases chronic tension by stroking across the grain of your muscles, rather than with the grain as in Relaxation Massage. While deep pressure on the fascia -- the protective layer surrounding your joints, bones and muscles -- can sometimes be slightly uncomfortable, the lasting benefits often outweigh any short-term soreness.
- Hot Stone Envy®-- uses smooth, water-heated stones to relax muscles so your therapist can reach deeper layers, reducing myofascial pain while promoting relaxation and stress relief. The warm stones help expand your blood vessels, resulting in better circulation and a sedative effect that can help diminish stress as well as relieving chronic pain.
Be sure to tell your therapist if you'd like your massage to include myofascial release. This involves gentle traction, pressure and positioning your joints in different angles that create a natural stretch. Along with encouraging muscle spasms to relax, it also helps break up adhesions in the affected fascia.
Myofascial pain syndrome can increase your chances of experiencing anxiety, depression and insomnia. Myofascial massage is an effective way of addressing those issues before they increase your level of pain.
Simply taking time to relax with a massage makes a powerful statement about the importance of your wellness. What's more, the relaxing effects of massage are cumulative -- which means that regular massage therapy helps you build and maintain your health. By targeting not only the contracted muscle or fascia that triggers pain in other areas of your body, but also addressing the stress that may have caused such muscle tightness in the first place, you and your myofascial massage therapist are creating a powerful set of weapons to battle myofascial pain syndrome.