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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit and Physician Chu I Ta on January 12, 2023

Best Natural Remedies For Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Published | 7 min read

Is your quality of life suffering due to myofascial pain syndrome? These treatment options can help get you back to feeling good again.

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Are you experiencing pain in seemingly unrelated trigger points of your body that won’t go away? If so, it could be due to myofascial pain syndrome.

The condition is common after a muscle injury or overuse. However, it can lead to pain that lasts for several months without proper treatment.

Luckily, there are many ways to naturally manage the condition. Read on to learn more about myofascial pain syndrome, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

What Is Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

A senior woman working at her desk holding the back of her neck in pain
Myofascial pain can occur anywhere in the body, but is most common in the neck, back, and shoulders.

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a common and chronic musculoskeletal injury. It originates from trigger points in skeletal muscle, either alone or with other pain generators. There are four types of trigger points:

There are four types of trigger points. An active trigger point occurs within a muscle, resulting in local or regional pain. A latent trigger point is dormant but can become active at any point. A secondary trigger point occurs in a muscle other than the one that hurts. A satellite trigger point overlaps with another trigger point and becomes inactive.

The onset of myofascial pain syndrome isn’t necessarily caused by physical factors or related to a person’s environment.

The main symptoms are: 

  • Pain  
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Sore or tender muscles 
  • Reduced range of motion in an affected area of the body 
  • The appearance of trigger points (small bumps, nodules, or muscle knots that are sensitive to touch)  

Symptoms may also develop in any muscle but mainly affect the upper back, shoulder, and neck

What Causes Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Several factors play a role in the onset of myofascial pain. Usually, the pain stems from mechanical factors like scoliosis, unequal leg length, joint hypermobility, or muscle use. Nutrient deficiencies and physical and psychological conditions can also contribute to the condition’s onset. 

Pain due to low thyroid hormone levels

Neuromuscular symptoms are often associated with thyroid dysfunction. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease worldwide and a common cause of low thyroid hormone levels.

Women of any age are more prone to hypothyroidism than men. The condition can also cause fatigue, cramps, muscle pain or weakness.

Mental health disorders 

A depressed woman sitting on her bed
People with depression, anxiety, or PTSD are more likely to develop myofascial pain.

Multiple studies show that people with anxietydepression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are likely to develop myofascial pain syndrome.

A study was performed in 2012 to identify the relationship between depression and trigger points in 76 healthy people. It demonstrated that the onset of the former was closely related to the appearance of the latter.

Approximately 58% of 101 Croatian war veterans with depression and PTSD also had upper-body myofascial pain. A total of 35 students studied during an academic year had higher anxiety levels and muscle tenderness during examination periods. 

Inflammatory and infectious illnesses 

The potential of localized inflammatory and infectious processes triggering myofascial pain syndrome is widely known.  

There are two types of chronic pancreatitis pain.

  • The first type, visceral pain, occurs when a person experiences pancreatic inflammation. As the inflammation subsides, the pain will move to the abdominal wall and present as myofascial pain syndrome.
  • Dysuria (painful urination) is a symptom of a urinary tract infection and is often associated with myofascial pain syndrome.

Pelvic floor myofascial pain syndrome affects the levator ani (funnel-shaped muscle on either side of the pelvis) and obturator internus (the bilateral, triangle-shaped muscles in the pelvic and gluteal regions).

Body constitution imbalances 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that a person experiences pain when weakness or obstruction occurs. 

“A proper circulation of Blood, qi, and body fluids can keep the body healthy. However, an external contraction of Wind, Cold, and Dampness will attack the muscles and meridians, resulting in pain in the bones, joints, and tendons.”

TCM Chief Physician Chu I Ta.

How Is Myofascial Pain Syndrome Diagnosed?

Consultation with a healthcare provider is the best way to diagnose myofascial pain syndrome. It comprises four components, such as:  

  • Imaging and diagnostic tests 
  • A visual examination of a person’s gait and posture 
  • A physical examination to identify muscle twitches or tight muscle bands  
  • Questions about the frequency and severity of a person’s symptoms and factors that can worsen their symptoms 

5 Ways To Treat Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Here are five approaches to myofascial pain syndrome treatment:

Take a multi-faceted approach

Healthcare providers may combine several treatments to manage pain and heal a person’s muscles. These include: 

  • Ultrasound therapy 
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy 
  • Physical therapy to strengthen, stretch or relax the affected muscles 
  • Low-level light or laser therapy to stimulate the release of pain-relieving chemicals 
  • Dry needling to decrease tightness in trigger points, increase blood flow, and relieve pain 
  • Wet needling to relieve pain by injecting a type of anesthetic called lidocaine into a trigger point 
  • The “spray and stretch” technique, which requires the spraying of coolant onto, and manual stretching of a muscle area  

Home treatment options

A man using a foam roller to reduce back pain
Stretching and using a foam roller can assist with back pain.

Apply a hot pack or take hot showers to ease muscle tension and reduce pain.

Weight-bearing exercises can help strengthen the muscles. Stretches may improve flexibility and range of motion, while aerobic exercises support the transport of oxygen to the muscles in the body.

People with myofascial pain syndrome should also avoid foods that cause inflammation and practice relaxation techniques like yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation. Relaxation techniques can benefit a person physically and psychologically by stretching and relaxing muscles and decreasing stress.

Prescription medication

Upon diagnosis, a healthcare provider may recommend medications that help address the underlying causes of myofascial pain syndrome. These are: 

  • Antidepressants 
  • Muscle relaxants 
  • Analgesics for pain relief 
  • Sedatives that promote better sleep 
  • Corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to calm inflammation 

Herbal remedies

A traditional approach involving herbal formulas can correct the body constitution imbalances that provoke the onset of myofascial pain syndrome. 

  • For people with Wind-Cold syndrome, a TCM practitioner may propose using Yi Yi Ren Tang to remove Wind, dissipate Cold, resolve Dampness, and clear the meridians.
  • Kidney and Liver Deficiencies are treated with Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. The formula will tackle these problems by strengthening the organ systems, relaxing the tendons, and alleviating pain. 
  • Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang can help address Blood Stasis and Qi Stagnation. The primary treatment principles of the formulas are to support blood and qi circulation and to clear Stasis and Phlegm in the meridians.
  • American Wild Ginseng and Tian Qi capsules can be used for general pain management. They work by reducing swelling, alleviating pain, and promoting the flow of qi and blood circulation.

To treat pain in targeted areas, you may consider an herbal muscle relief plaster to provide comfort.

Acupressure

Acupressure may offer symptomatic relief for myofascial pain syndrome. A few of the acupoints that can help are: 

  • Shou San Li (JI10), Jian Yu (LI15), and Jian Liao (SJ14) for the arms 
  • Wei Zhong (BL40), Yang Ling Quan (GB34), Zu San Li (ST36), and Feng Long (ST40) for the legs  
  • Shen Shu (BL23), Da Chang Shu (BL25), and Huan Tiao (GB30) for the hips and back 

Talk To A TCM Physician About Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Adhering to a treatment plan that a healthcare provider recommends is a person’s best bet against myofascial pain syndrome. If you wish to take an alternative approach, it’s best to speak to a TCM practitioner beforehand. It’ll ensure that the remedies suggested are based on syndrome differentiation and suitable for your specific body constitution.

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