‘Trigger point (myofascial) pain’
Perhaps you’ve already consulted a doctor, who was not able to locate a source of your pain. This may have left you feeling that your pain isn’t “real”; that its ‘all in your head’. While its true that persistent muscle pain can be a sign of depression, and that stress can make it worse, it is also the case that well-meaning practitioners do not always understand enough about myofascial pain syndromes to have properly ruled them out; especially when the trigger point the pain arises from is some distance from where you feel the pain.
A myofascial pain syndrome is more likely if the pain has lingered on after an injury (sometimes even quite a minor one); or if you have noticed very tender points in the muscles of one part of your body (tenderness all over the body goes against a myofascial cause). You may have found tender points that cause pain elsewhere when pressed. These ‘trigger points’ can be some way from the target area. For instance trigger points in the shoulder muscles can cause a headache in the temples; certain trigger points in the buttocks can give you low back pain. If the muscles have tightened up, you might have noticed a reduced range of motion in the joint moved by the painful muscle(s).
The essential outcome of any myofascial treatment is to desensitise the trigger points so that the muscle can stretch and relax. I usually treat myofascial pain syndromes with a combination of
osteopathy and acupuncture. Sometimes I inject trigger points to reduce their sensitivity. Relaxation techniques are sometimes important, especially when long term pain has increased a person’s stress levels.
Muscle pain: all over the body, long term
Unlike the pain of a myofascial syndrome, which is typically provoked only by particular movements, and tends to be confined to one part of the body, fibromyalgia pain is far more widespread. People with fibromyalgia ache in many different places and may have noticed that several parts of their body are very tender when touched or pressed. The pain of fibromyalgia syndrome typically develops more gradually so its unlikely you would remember a particular time when your symptoms began. But In addition, people with this kind of pain often complain of poor sleep, and experience considerable fatigue.