Chronic muscle pain is also known as Myofascial Pain Syndrome. The condition affects the connective tissue that covers your muscles. It can be centered on a single muscle or muscle group, and the pain is normally persistent and can worsen over time.
Causes and Symptoms
Chronic muscle pain can be caused by injury, excess strain on a particular muscle group, repetitive movements, fatigue or lack of activity. Symptoms include muscle stiffness, a deep aching pain localized in the muscle, pain that increasingly worsens, joint stiffness near the pain sight and difficulty sleeping.
Trigger or tender points are places in the muscle where you feel the most pain. Your doctor will apply gentle pressure to feel for sensitive areas. You may feel a jolt of pain when he finds a trigger point. He also may feel around the trigger points to see if he can elicit certain responses like muscle twitch. This helps your doctor diagnose the condition.
Physical therapy is one form of treatment. Gentle stretching exercises can ease the affected areas. A physical therapist also can provide massage to the muscle for pain relief. She may use long hand strokes along the affected area or put pressure on the trigger points to release tension. A physical therapist also can help you find reasons for your pain. Trigger point injections, also called needling, can help ease tension. Your doctor may inject a numbing solution into the trigger point or corticosteroids to help reduce pain and inflammation. Aspirin and Advil are a few of the medications used for chronic muscle pain. Anti-depressants such as Elavil can help relieve pain and might have the added benefit of helping a patient sleep.
Keep your body healthy by exercising regularly. Exercise gently with stretches or yoga and avoid strenuous activities that can exacerbate the pain. Eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep. Stress and tension can make muscle pain worse, so relax with meditation tapes or by watching television.