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Chronic Myofascial Pain

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What is chronic myofascial pain?

Most people have muscle pain from time to time. But chronic myofascial pain is a kind of ongoing or longer-lasting pain that can affect the connective tissue (fascia) of a muscle or group of muscles. With myofascial pain, there are areas called trigger points. Trigger points are usually in fascia or in a tight muscle.

Myofascial pain often goes away with treatment.

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What causes chronic myofascial pain?

Experts don't know exactly what causes chronic myofascial pain. It may start after:

  • Strain or injury to the muscles, ligaments, or tendons.
  • Using a muscle after you haven't used it for a while, such as after a stroke or after having a broken bone.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom of chronic myofascial pain is ongoing or longer-lasting muscle pain, in areas such as the low back, neck, shoulders, and chest. You might feel the pain or the pain may get worse when you press on a trigger point. The muscle may be swollen or hard—you may hear it called a "taut band" of muscle or "knot" in the muscle. Symptoms of myofascial pain may include:

  • A muscle that is sensitive or tender when touched.
  • Muscle pain that happens with pressure on a trigger point.
  • Pain that feels like aching, burning, stinging, or stabbing.
  • Reduced range of motion in the affected area.
  • A feeling of weakness in the affected muscle.

People with chronic myofascial pain may have other health problems, such as tension headaches, depression, sleep problems, and fatigue. These problems are common in people who have chronic pain.

How is chronic myofascial pain diagnosed?

To diagnose chronic myofascial pain, your doctor will ask if you have had a recent injury, where the pain is, how long you have had the pain, what makes it better or worse, and if you have any other symptoms.

The doctor will also give you a physical exam. He or she will press on different areas to see if the pressure causes pain.

You may have tests to see if some other condition is causing your pain.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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