Understanding Myofascial Pain
Trigger Points for Dummies 2.0
A majority of chronic pain is actually Myofascial Pain.
In this article, I will discuss the myofascial system and how working with this system can alleviate the cause оf your chronic pain.
Fascia and the Myofascial System:
Our body is wrapped in multiple layers оf connective tissue called the Fascia. Fascia connects and holds everything in our body, together. Our muscles, nerves, vessels, organs, and joints are all covered in fascia. Muscles, in particular, are especially wrapped in fascia, as they are covered in 3 layers оf fascia, giving rise to the term the Myo (muscle) fascial system.
Understanding how scar tissue affects our body
Each оf us gets injured at some point in our lives. Our injuries naturally heal with scar tissue. Scar tissue, however, has its disadvantages. Scar tissue is connective tissue that, unlike our regular connective tissue, is formed in a random manner. Because оf this characteristic scar tissue is much stiffer and less mobile than regular connective tissue. If not stretched out, scar tissue creates mobility restrictions and muscular tension. The other structures that are embedded in our connective tissue, such as the blood vessels and nerves are also affected by scar tissue.
Why your muscles feel like knots. Understanding the spam complex.
Scar tissue within the Myofascial system has a directly negative effect on muscles. Scar tissue is perhaps the major cause оf why muscles go into spasm and remain in spasm. If you have areas in your muscle that feel like knots, (and who doesn’t), that is a muscle spasm. Muscle spasms have been described in several ways: knots, trigger points, and as taught bands. Each of these terms describe a characteristic оf the muscle spasm complex.
Knots, trigger points and taut bands
Knots are large and bulbous and stiff. Trigger points however, have the characteristic that when pressed, they elicit a pain sensation that spreads. Taut bands are spasms that stretch along the length оf the muscle and feel ropey. Knots are often found in the trapezius muscles on top оf the shoulder and around the pelvis, taut bands are common in the scalene muscles оf the neck, and both the arm and leg muscles, and trigger points can be anywhere.
What I want you to realize is this:
Your muscles, when at rest, should not be tense.
This rule applies to any muscle in your body.
Any muscle spasm is a part оf that muscle that is stuck in activation, in other words, that part оf the muscle is stuck in the on position. Conversely, the nerve that is responsible for relaxing the muscle, the muscle spindle fiber, is stuck in the off position. These muscle spindle nerves act as if everything is fine. These receptors are not doing their job, they act as if they are unaware оf the situation, they are in a sense turned off. Are they stuck in the off position as they too are wrapped up tightly inside the spam complex? This needs to be studied further.
It is clear however, that due to the constant muscle contraction, these receptors and the associated muscles are suffering in a low oxygen environment and they are surrounded by metabolic waste and white blood cells. Pressing on a myofascial spasm causes the sensory nerves to quickly elicit a pain threshold.
Myofascial muscle spasms lead to:
Myofascial muscle spasms can cause extensive muscle restriction. These restrictions are felt as muscle pain, muscle shortening, slower reaction times and joint pain. Many may notice nerve pain, numbness, weakness, muscle atrophy, inflammation, and оf course edema. Much оf the dysfunction and pain you feel is generated within the myofascial system. Another term used for this condition is Myofascial Pain Syndrome.
Myofascial Release to the Rescue
Myofascial Release is the science and technique of finding and releasing myofascial tension.
Why has my doctor never mentioned this?
Muscle spasms are poorly understood in the medical field. Many doctors are not concerned with something so trivial, meaning they have lives to save. Many medical websites simply dismiss myofascial anything as fringe and even quackery. Wikipedia has Myofascial Therapy listed as an unproven pseudoscience. Therefore your doctor, who BTW has never been trained in this knowledge, may not recognize or be able to correctly diagnose your Myofascial Pain Syndrome.
If you are experiencing constant muscle pain, and the symptoms are not resolving, you may need to search elsewhere.
Only trained doctors and manual therapists with hands-on experience can have a grasp and understanding оf the inner workings оf myofascial pain syndrome. Yes, pun intended.
The Myofascial Release Technique, MFR
The MFR technique, at its core, is focused on finding and resolving muscle spasms. By removing these muscle spasms, we also remove the source оf your chronic pain.
The Myofascial technique requires that a therapist be sensitive enough to find the tiniest оf muscle spasms. It is also required that they have the ability to hold and manipulate the muscle fibers long enough to allow the muscle spasm to release.
There you have it! Simple right?
Traditional massage therapists are trained in a series оf moves that constitute a pattern that is applied over the body called a Flow. They spend hundreds оf hours studying and then applying these patterns. Unless your therapist has been specifically taught in Myofascial Release, they most likely will just be skipping over your problem areas. Most massage therapists are in a rush to complete their flow, over your whole body, within an hour, (55 minutes).
However to really dive deep into your problem areas, this requires a Myofascial therapist. Someone with focus, depth and specific training. I have spent the last 40 years in my practice, developing these very skills.
I offer this type оf work to each and every patient that has myofascial pain.
If you are experiencing chronic pain, and many of us are as we age, go ahead and set up a consultation or appointment. Let’s get to work clearing out nasty, restrictive scar tissue, eliminating muscle spasms, and resolving these deeply held patterns in your body!
Myofascial Release pairs well with Chiropractic and together these therapies offer pain reduction and soft tissue healing that is unparalleled by any other means that I have ever seen.
Craig Eymann DC
Myofascial Therapist, Physiotherapist, Personal Trainer and Chiropractor