Treatment for myofascial pain syndrome can be anything from medications to lifestyle changes and therapy. Some folks even find relief in alternative care (chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, and aroma therapy). As always, make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any course of treatment.
Medications used for myofascial pain syndrome include:
- Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve) may help some people. Or your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers. Some are available in patches that you place on your skin.
- Antidepressants. Many types of antidepressants also can help relieve pain. For some people with myofascial pain syndrome, amitriptyline appears to reduce pain and improve sleep.
- Sedatives. Clonazepam (Klonopin) helps relax muscles affected by myofascial pain syndrome. It must be used carefully because it can cause sleepiness and can be habit-forming
Therapy for myofascial pain syndrome:
A physical therapist can devise a plan to help relieve your pain based on your signs and symptoms. Physical therapy to relieve myofascial pain syndrome may involve:
- Stretching. A physical therapist may lead you through gentle stretching exercises to help ease the pain in your affected muscle. If you feel trigger point pain when stretching, the physical therapist may spray a numbing solution on your skin.
- Massage. A physical therapist may massage your affected muscle to help relieve your pain. The physical therapist may use long hand strokes along your muscle or place pressure on specific areas of your muscle to release tension.
- Heat. Applying heat, via a hot pack or a hot shower, can help relieve muscle tension and reduce pain.
- Ultrasound. This type of therapy uses sound waves to increase blood circulation and warmth, which may promote healing in muscles affected by myofascial pain syndrome.
Injecting a numbing agent or a steroid into a trigger point can help relieve pain. In some people, just the act of inserting the needle into the trigger point helps break up the muscle tension (dry needling). Dry needling involves inserting a needle into several places in and around the trigger point. Acupuncture also appears to be helpful for some people who have myofascial pain syndrome.
- Exercise. Gentle exercise can help you cope better with pain. When your pain allows, get moving. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about appropriate exercises.
- Relax. If you’re stressed and tense, you may experience more pain. Find ways to relax. Meditating, writing in a journal, or talking with friends can all be helpful.
- Take care of your body. Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Get enough sleep so that you wake rested. Take care of your body so that you can put your energy toward coping with your pain.
If you are dealing with chronic pain as the result of a work injury or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia,” or call our office today (804) 755-7755.
Michele Lewane, Esq.