myofascial syndrome Symptoms and causes

Muscle pain What is myofascial syndrome

Let’s start with the word “syndrome.” It is almost a synonym for the word “disease.” The only difference is that the symptoms of the disease have both a common development mechanism and a common origin. And the symptoms that make up the syndrome have only a common development mechanism, and their origin is different. It’s easier to understand with an example. All the symptoms of salmonellosis are of a common origin – they are caused by salmonella bacteria. Therefore, salmonellosis is a disease. But the symptoms of the myofascial syndrome have a different origin: a violation of neuromuscular conduction, overload, fatigue, stress, metabolic disorders, a “sedentary” lifestyle, bad habits, injuries, etc. Therefore, the myofascial syndrome is called a “syndrome.” Muscle pain What is a myocardial syndrome.

Now – “myofascial.” This word consists of two words: “myo” – a muscle and “fascia” – the muscle membrane with which each muscle of our body is covered. Muscles and fasciae are inseparable: they work together and get sick together.  We’ll immediately agree: for simplicity, we will not say “muscles and fascia,” but simply “muscles.” But, for the sake of justice, nevertheless, we will begin with fascia.


Fascia is a muscle membrane that sometimes shortens, similar to how things “sit down” when improperly washed. This happens for various reasons, for example, from a sedentary lifestyle or injury. As a result of this shortening, the fascial membrane becomes tight, it tightens the muscle – and the muscle, under the influence of this tightness, has to contract itself reflexively. As soon as muscle contraction reaches a certain strength, the muscle automatically clamps the nerve endings, veins, and arteries that pass through it. But the most important thing – the clamped muscle can no longer contract normally. Consequently, a pinched muscle will become worse and weaken.

Under the onslaught of this pathology, the body will adapt to the growing pathological changes and hold independent defense as long as there is enough strength. All this time, healthy muscles will take on the load, compensating for all the shortcomings. However, even healthy muscles will not be able to endure overload indefinitely, so they will also begin to weaken and contract. Thus, the pathological process, spreading from one muscle to another, gradually covers the entire muscles of the back and limbs. First, this will change the posture, then overload the spine, leading to the formation of intervertebral hernias and protrusions. And finally, having exhausted the possibility of compensation, the body will give “SOS” signals – the occurrence of pain. This is what myofascial syndrome looks like.

We are used to thinking that pain arises because a person has lifted a weight, “laid back” his neck, or bent sharply. But this is not so. These circumstances only translate the disease into an open phase.

Common Mistake for back Pain

Do not confuse treatment and rehabilitation. The difference between the two is enormous. Treatment is the fight against the disease, and rehabilitation is catching up for the time while the person was sick.  After all, recovery exercises are not just physical education. But in no case in the acute or subacute periods when the disease is at its peak! Otherwise, there is a great danger of tearing off the compensatory forces of the body, which are already at the limit.

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Another common misconception is the “reduction” of the vertebrae. An inexperienced patient, who first encountered back pain, most often counts on the fact that he is “quickly corrected,” and the case ends. How far he is from the truth! After all, at the time of the appearance of pain between most muscles, the balance was already disturbed. And if you compare the spine and muscles with the mast and ropes, it becomes clear that uneven and asymmetrically stretched ropes can easily warp the mast.


When examining patients, the asymmetry of many muscles is visible. For example, the left muscle groups pull the right, the front muscles are more intense than the back, and the deep ones are more than the superficial.  Therefore, if we restrict ourselves to the “reduction” of the vertebrae without properly relaxing the muscles, then the stretched back muscles will again and again “displace” the vertebrae. Therefore, first of all, it is necessary to return the muscles to their normal state, freeing them from tension. And only then “adjust” the vertebrae and “pump” the muscle corset. But more often than not, after muscle relaxation, the vertebrae themselves “fall into place,” receiving the long-awaited freedom.

Symptoms of myofascial syndrome

It happens that different diseases have similar symptoms, for example, pain. Speaking of the myofascial syndrome, we do not forget that there are disc herniation, osteoporosis, and other diseases. After all, it often happens that a person has two or three diseases at the same time, and in different stages. For example, inactive disc hernia and exacerbation of myofascial syndrome. Therefore, it is important to distinguish what is currently worrying about the patient. Therefore, to truly cure the disease, first of all, it is necessary to recognize it among a pile of active and inactive symptoms.

Symptoms of the myofascial syndrome are:

  • trigger points;
  • areas of reflected pain;
  • numerous vegetative disorders.

Now let’s take a look at each of them individually.

Trigger points

Myofascial syndrome originates in the thickness of the muscles with microscopically small muscle spasms. Gradually, the spasm zone reaches a size significant for the microworld. The number of such sites increases; they become denser and become incredibly painful. If you accidentally discovered similar pain points in different parts of the body, then the likelihood of myofascial syndrome is very high. But finally, two other symptoms will help to make sure of this.

Areas of reflected pain

The reflected pain is like a bunny falling on a wall. Although the wall glows, it is clear to any adult that this is just a reflection of the sun. Reflected pain can manifest itself in different ways: both independent muscle pain What is a myofascial syndrome.

It is impossible to catch a solar “bunny” until you cover the mirror. Reflected pain cannot be eliminated if you do not know where its true source is. It is a great success that each trigger point has its own, strictly defined “pattern” of the pain zone – the pain pattern. This correspondence allows the chiropractor to accurately identify the true sources of pain and effectively eliminate them.

Vegetative dysfunction

This includes breathing, nutrition and excretion, sleep and wakefulness, heating the body in the cold and cool in the heat, and much more.

In simple cases of the myofascial syndrome, autonomic dysfunction is subtle. It is manifested by swelling of the sore spot, a change in skin color, or a violation of sweating. But when the myofascial syndrome is expressed strongly or for a long time, then autonomic dysfunction acquires very bright features. There are morning stiffness, dizziness, nausea, sometimes vomiting, stuffy ears, lumps in the throat, and anxiety. General weakness, fatigue, irritability, depression, poor mood and tearfulness, insomnia at night, and drowsiness during the day, distracted attention, and memory loss occurs. Frequent disorders of the internal organs: abdominal pain, palpitations, lack of air. Headaches, the sensation of compression of the head, trunk, or limbs.

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However, all of the listed autonomic disorders, patients associate with anything, but not with the muscles.

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What are the causes of myofascial syndrome?

Weight lifting, hypothermia, negative emotions. What connects all these factors and muscle pain?

Acute muscle overload. As a rule, if back pain arises due to lifting, gravity, awkward movement or injury, then it does not cause questions, its causes are so obvious. There is also chronic muscle overload, and it occurs due to scoliosis, posture disorders, or a uniform posture, for example, with a sedentary lifestyle. However, chronic muscle overload, due to its predominant pathological effect on the body, we will discuss separately.

Metabolic disorders. This includes overweight, hormonal deficiency, anemia, low levels of hemoglobin, vitamins, calcium, sodium, and iron. Also, various toxins have a fatal effect on metabolic processes: from viral and microbial (remember muscle aches in the body with a cold) to toxic products of smoking, alcohol, or drugs. In general, any intoxication seriously disrupts the nutrition of muscle cells, leads to overstrain and the development of the myofascial syndrome.

Another cause of pain is hypothermia.

It is the muscles that produce heat in the body. Not without reason, with active movements, a person becomes hot, and freezing, he trembles from the cold. Tremors are extremely intense muscle work in generating heat. Severe hypothermia can cause overload, leading to pathological stress and myofascial pain syndrome.

Emotional disturbances. For this reason, we will focus on. Do you know why? Because most people are not aware of the connection between emotions and muscles, and this connection is so significant that it cannot be neglected!  Artificial light, street noise, lack of sleep, and other factors of the metropolis catastrophically overload the sympathetic system, which serves as a starter for muscular overstrain. Emotional overload is a significant and very significant reason that enhances pathological muscle tension – take this into account when analyzing your pains.

And finally, let’s name the most common, and perhaps the main cause of the myofascial syndrome.

Muscle imbalance

What is a muscle imbalance? There is an opinion that muscle imbalance is a violation between the so-called opposing antagonist muscles, that is, flexors and extensors, front and back, deep and superficial. But in fact, muscle imbalance is an imbalance between the phase and tonic muscles.

According to their functions, the muscles of our body are divided into two groups. Others hold a pose, counteracting the gravitational forces of gravity of the earth and the pressure on us of the atmosphere. During movement, all muscle groups work. For example, when walking, the motor muscles “go,” and the tonic-postural muscles hold the body upright. When a person is motionless, for example, sits, then only tonic muscles work for him, and motor muscles are inactive.


Today, from childhood, statics and uniform pose prevail. And if we add here posture disorders and scoliosis, which in themselves are static overload, then the scale of the problem becomes obvious. Static uniformity forms the fatigue overstrain of the tonic muscles, which causes them to contract and “stiffen,” while the motor ones, on the contrary, become decrepit from prolonged inactivity.

Sooner or later, muscle imbalance leads to the appearance of local muscle cramps. They are having started due to chronic muscle overload. Spasms are aggravated by the influence of the “second stage” causes. The problem is aggravated by the fact that a person cannot feel muscle imbalance, in contrast to trauma, the severity of hypothermia. The invisibility of the initial stage of the disease allows it to be deeply rooted and spread its sprouts everywhere.

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