Cervical Myofascial Pain & Chiropractic Care

Cervical Myofascial Pain & Chiropractic Care Blog  Myofascial Pain

Muscle pain that is reoccurring and chronic in nature is a widespread problem. Known in the medical field as myofascial pain, this dysfunction often begins in the neck and spine and then spreads to the surrounding connective tissues and muscles. Patients who suffer from myofascial pain are often frustrated because this condition has no associated clinical markers or laboratory diagnostic evaluations to prove its existence. However, the field of chiropractic care provides lasting and effective solutions for people who experience this type of pain on a regular basis.

What is Myofascial Pain?

The most commonly observed subset of this pain disorder is known as cervical myofascial pain. This means that the vertebrae of the neck, which are known as the cervical spine, are implicated in muscle and connective tissue strain. The tissues that surround muscle and bone are known as fascia, and can become inflamed and overly-taut from trauma or overuse.

This ailment is diagnosed through a physical examination, which focuses upon certain trigger points surrounding the vertebrae in the neck. When palpated by an experienced healthcare professional, abnormal tissue sensitivity is evidenced by rigid and stiff bands of muscular fibers. These localized areas of tension and pain can radiate down the spine, affecting many parts of a person’s anatomy. Common causes of this disorder may include:

  • Trauma, commonly following a car accident
  • Chronic overuse of neck and shoulder muscles, such as from repeated heavy lifting
  • Poor posture

Signs & Symptoms

Since there are no blood or imaging tests that can confirm the presence of this disorder, patients must self-report their symptoms to their healthcare provider. This pain condition is most commonly considered a rheumatological disorder. Rheumatology is the branch of medicine that is dedicated to treating and studying arthritic disorders and other afflictions of the joints, connective tissues and muscles. Common symptoms that patients of this condition experience include:

  • Deep aching in the affected musculature
  • Chronic, persistent pain that does not get better over time
  • Restricted ability to move and decreased flexibility
  • Tender nodules along muscles
  • Insomnia and other sleep-related dysfunctions due to pain

Although it is normal to experience some amount of muscle tension and pain, especially after periods of physical exertion or exercise, this type of pain does not subside with self-care techniques, rest or massage. Left untreated, other health problems may develop, such as:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Recurring migraine headaches
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)

Chiropractic Care – Healing Cervical Myofascial Strain

Accessing effective treatment from compassionate and sensitive healthcare professionals is often a challenge for people who suffer from this pain disorder. Conventional doctors may doubt the patient’s self-reported symptoms, dismissing the individual as an over-exaggerator, hypochondriac or malingerer.

In the field of chiropractic, however, patients who experience this affliction are validated and treated with evidence-based approaches. Instead of brushing off patients with a script for pain pills, a chiropractor can work to heal the affected muscles. Common techniques employed by a chiropractor are:

  • Massage and manipulation of trigger points
  • Stretching maneuvers
  • Vertebral readjustments
  • Acupuncture or other needling techniques

The therapeutic care offered by chiropractors encourages the cervical musculature to loosen and re engage healthfully with the surrounding bones and fascia. Offering hope and pain relief, chiropractic care is the best option for those suffering from chronic pain.

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In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)

image

Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)

image

Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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