Patients with chronic myofascial pain must typically undergo several treatments to alleviate the pain symptoms associated with the condition. A comprehensive treatment plan may include the following treatments:
- Physical therapy: Contraction of the muscle due to a taut band and muscle trigger point may be relieved with physical manipulation by a trained professional. Massage movements in long strokes along affected muscles and stretching exercises may help to relieve muscle tension. If poor posture is contributing to muscle fatigue and tension, a physical therapist may conduct and recommend exercises aimed at improving posture over the long term.
- A practice known as Trigger Point Pressure Release involves the application of gradually increased pressure at a muscle trigger point is meant to soften the knotty muscle tissue of the trigger point and taut band. Another treatment called Spray and Stretch involves the application of a very cold spray that temporarily distracts the muscle, allowing a doctor or therapist to stretch the muscle to the point of release. Once a trigger point is released, the muscle is moved throughout its full range of motion. A patient must continue to perform limbering, stretching and strengthening motions outside of physical therapy sessions to retrain the affected muscle.
- Trigger point injections: In this treatment, a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, or corticosteriod medication is injected into the tender knotty tissue of the muscle trigger point. The injection works to relax the tension of the trigger point and relieve associated pain, allowing the trigger point to be released and more effectively addressed with physical therapy.
Medications: Temporary pain relief is a critical part of a treatment strategy, helping a myofascial pain sufferer cope with the ongoing pain of the condition. Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help a patient manage the pain. Tricyclic antidepressants have also been found to help relieve pain.
Treatment of myofascial pain can be dependent on the patient's level of health or severity of injury. An individual's rate of improvement may vary based on a number of conditions such as:
- Overall physical fitness and health
- Compliance with self-care and at-home treatment
- Underlying skeletal abnormalities
- Depression, anxiety or stress
- Quality of sleep
- Other medical conditions