Everyone feels muscle soreness and pain from time to time, but chronic myofascial pain syndrome is a different animal. Defined as long-lasting pain and often associated with specific trigger points, CMPS can cause long-term muscle weakness and decreased range of motion. Massage therapy can combat many symptoms of CMPS.
What Causes Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
While researchers are not sure why chronic myofascial pain syndrome strikes some people, there are some mechanical factors that are believed to contribute to the condition. This includes things like having one leg longer than the other, overusing muscles, stress and bad posture. Anxiety and depressioncan also increase muscle tension, which is another cause of localized myofascial pain. Symptoms often include, but are not limited to:
- Difficulty sleeping due to muscle and soft tissue pain
- Knots in the muscle that are tender to the touch
- Pain that persists or increases
- Deep, aching pain in the muscle
Injuries, overuse and repetitive motion can cause injuries to the muscle called trigger points, which can cause pain throughout the muscle. Patients who continually stress and injure the same muscle group, for instance, are at a higher risk for developing the condition. Anxietyand stress may also make you more likely to develop chronic myofascial pain syndrome, believed to be attributable to the involuntary clenching of muscles during times of high stress, which acts as a repetitive strain on the muscles. Patients living with CMPS may be at a higher risk for developing fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition that involves widespread pain throughout the body.
Like fibromyalgia, chronic myofascial pain syndrome is a painful condition for which there is no cure, and it's not entirely understood even by researchers. What science has uncovered, however, is that massage therapy can be of great value as a treatment for both conditions.
How Massage Therapy Can Help You Manage Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Living your life with constant pain can put a damper on everything, significantly impacting your quality of life and your ability to do things you once loved. Because an invisible illness is also not easily understood by family members, loved ones and coworkers, it can also be an isolating experience. Depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances are common comorbid conditions, and massage therapy is scientifically proven to help with all these conditions.
Because massage increases serotonin levels while reducing those of cortisol, a stress hormone, it has very real promise as an adjunctive treatment for anxiety and depression. Since massage therapy actively targets muscle pain and soreness while increasing flexibility and range of motion, it can reduce these symptoms of chronic myofascial pain syndrome. The dispersal of lactic acid throughout soft tissues can improve circulation as well, providing relief for "knotting" sensations in muscles.
Treatment for chronic myofascial pain syndrome is often multi-faceted, drawing from a variety of disciplines, because there is yet no known cure for the condition. In many cases, a doctor will refer patients with CMPS to a massage therapist to address the pain, inflammation, loss of mobility, sleep disturbances and anxiety, because it can address all these issues.
If you're living with poorly controlled CMPS, a massage therapist may be your best line of defense.