Does Acupuncture Help Myofascial Pain?

Myofascial pain is experienced in the myofascial pain syndrome. It is an inflammatory condition of the muscle fascia.1 It is caused due to the activation of trigger points located under the skin on the muscle. Its causes can be overstraining, direct or indirect trauma, poor posture, disturbed sleep, stress, and many more. Myofascial pain is accompanied by discomfort, tenderness, spasms and many more. It can be treated with medicines, trigger point injections, physical therapy, massage therapy, and stretch techniques. Acupuncture has evolved as the most effective way of treating trigger point and myofascial pain syndrome in recent time.

Does Acupuncture Help Myofascial Pain?

Acupuncture can be an effective way to treat myofascial pain and trigger points in various parts of the body.2 It is also known as dry needling. Experts say that the needles that are used for myofascial pain syndrome should be different from that of needles used for traditional acupuncture. Classical Chinese acupuncture relieves pain and other ailments with the use of fine needless to reset the nerve transmission. The trigger points in myofascial pain syndrome are palpable. In traditional acupuncture median and acupoints are targeted for treatment whereas in myofascial pain syndrome only palpable trigger points are targeted.

Acupuncture in myofascial pain syndrome evolved in the middle of the 18th century. It works on the tender muscle or trigger points. There are 255 trigger points identified in the manuals related to myofascial pain. Trigger points are the sensitive and painful areas on the muscles, fascia, bones, organs and other body parts. If trigger points are subjected to deep pressure, massage, injections, mechanical vibrations, electrical stimulation or stretching, then myofascial pain can be relieved efficiently.

Acupuncture is performed by experts i.e. by trained physical therapists or acupuncturist. It helps to relax the contracted muscle. It resolves targeted trigger points that are characterized by the disappearance of tight knots under the skin. Once the trigger points are gone, the pain associated with myofascial pain syndrome also vanishes that supports the regular strengthening and stretching of the muscle. The patients recover fast and regain full range of motion fast.

Apart from its effectiveness, acupuncture may render side effects. According to a study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, some patients who got acupuncture therapy experienced post-injection pain in the trigger points. The pain increased drastically in intensity and duration. However, the application of ice or heat packs helped to relieve the pain. The subjects were also advised to avoid gentle stretches and strenuous physical activities for a few days.

In spite of these side effects, many people supported the use of acupuncture because of its effectiveness to relieve pain. However, its effectiveness is different in a different person.

Myofascial pain is referred to as a pain in the muscle fascia induced by inflammation in Myofascial Pain Syndrome. It appears due to the irritation of trigger points when they are pressed or excessively strained. Trigger points are knots that are felt just under the skin located in the muscular band. It can range in between mild to severe. It is accompanied by fatigue, discomfort, tenderness, and spasms in the muscle.

Myofascial pain syndrome develops when a muscle is injured directly or indirectly or overstrained during physical activity or repetitively strained. It affects a single muscle, or muscle groups, tendons or ligaments. It causes inflammation of the muscle fascia. It can be also caused by injuries to intervertebral disks (spinal cord), generalized fatigue, and lack of activity as seen in the broken leg in a sling, medical issues such as stomach irritation, heart attack, stress, anxiety or depression. It can also be induced by poor posture and poor sleep pattern.

Conclusion

Acupuncture can help to treat myofascial pain. Myofascial pain is induced by irritation or activation of trigger points located on the muscles. Acupuncture targets these trigger points and relieve the pain and allows regular stretching and movement of the muscles. However, it too possesses side effects.

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