How is myofascial pain syndrome treated?

If you have myofascial pain syndrome, treatment will be more successful if you see your healthcare provider early after symptoms develop — before trigger points are established. Many treatments are available and your medical professional will likely use a combination of the following to manage your pain and restore affected muscles:

  • Physical therapy (to strengthen, stretch and relax muscles).
  • Dry needling (pushing thin needles into the trigger point to decrease tightness, increase blood flow and relieve pain).
  • Wet needling / trigger point injections (using a needle to inject lidocaine [or other anesthetic] into the trigger point to relieve pain).
  • “Spray and stretch” (spraying a trigger point with a coolant, then slowly, manually stretching the muscles).
  • Low-level light therapy / cold laser (using lasers to stimulate the release of pain-relieving chemicals).
  • Ultrasound (using sound waves to penetrate muscles).
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS therapy; pads are attached to your skin through which low-voltage electrical signals are sent).
  • Acupuncture and relaxation therapies, including biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy (also good for improving sleep and reducing anxiety).

Prescription medication options may include:

  • Pain-killing medications (analgesics).
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Muscle relaxants.
  • Steroids.
  • Antidepressants.
  • Sedatives to improve the quality of your sleep.

Treatments you can do at home include:

  • Heat (as in a heating pad). Some people benefit from cold/ice packs.
  • Exercise. Specifically weight-bearing exercises (to strengthen muscles), stretching exercises (to stretch muscles) and aerobic exercises (to get more oxygen into the muscles).
  • Over-the-counter pain killers (such as acetaminophen) or NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen). Don’t take these drugs if you are taking analgesics or NSAIDs prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Relaxation techniques, including yoga (to stretch and relax muscles and decrease stress), breathing exercises and meditation.
  • Dietary changes (avoid foods known to cause inflammation).
  • Soaking in warm water.
  • Massages.

The duration of myofascial pain syndrome varies from person to person. With treatment, it may go away after a day or a few weeks, but it can take longer for some. How fast your myofascial pain syndrome resolves depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Your general health.
  • Diet.
  • Amount and quality of sleep.
  • How vigilantly you obey your healthcare provider’s recommendations.

Who will treat/manage my myofascial pain syndrome?

Healthcare providers typically capable of managing myofascial pain syndrome include physiatrists (medical doctors who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation), pain management specialists, rheumatologists or orthopedists and physical therapists.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/06/2020.

References

  • National Association of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists. Myofascial Therapy. Accessed 7/1/2020.
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists. Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Accessed 7/1/2020.
  • Bernstein CD, Weiner DK. Chapter 123. Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndromes. In: Halter JB, Ouslander JG, Tinetti ME, Studenski S, High KP, Asthana S. eds. Hazzard's Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, 6e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2009. Accessed 7/1/2020.
  • Chandola HC, Chakraborty A. Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome-a dilemma. Indian J Anaesth. 2009;53(5):575-81. Accessed 7/1/2020.
  • Rodante JA, Al Hassan QA, Almeer ZS. Myofascial Pain Syndrome: Uncovering the Root Causes. 2012;12(6). Accessed 7/1/2020.
  • Weller JL, Comeau D, Otis JAD. Myofascial Pain. Semin Neurol 2018;38(6):640-643. Accessed 7/1/2020.
  • Gerwin RD. Myofascial Trigger Point Pain Syndromes. Semin Neurol 2016;36(5):469-473. Accessed 7/1/2020.
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Can Diet Help with Inflammation? Accessed 7/1/2020.

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