Muscle Spasm or Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Muscle spasms are defined as sudden, involuntary contractions in one or more muscles and can occur in any muscle of the body. These are generally short lived and may resolve on their own, however can become persistent and may require treatment.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is characterized by regional pain arising from hyperirritable spots located in taut bands of muscle, known as Myofascial Trigger Points (MTrP). These MTrPs can result in pain local pain throughout the affected muscle and may also result in referred pain, or pain that is perceived in a different location than the site of the painful stimulus.

Schedule Appointment | Results Physiotherapy | Muscle Spasm or Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Causes of Muscle Spasms or Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Contrary to what you may think, the muscle itself is rarely the cause of this condition. There is usually an underlying cause for the muscle pain that is causing the muscle to contract at a low level. When this occurs, the muscle never has a chance to relax and becomes very painful. This can be due to undue stress from prolonged sitting, poor posture, psychological stress, dietary deficiencies or any number of conditions such as poor motor control or low level inflammatory processes. It may also be caused by repetitive injury or overuse. Occasionally patients who overuse their neck muscles while performing normal breathing can have these myofascial pain syndromes.

  • Undue Stress from Prolonged Sitting, Poor Posture, Psychological Stress, or Dietary Deficiencies
  • Repetitive Injury or Overuse
  • Other Medical Risk Factors

Symptoms of Muscle Spasms or Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Symptoms associated with this condition include aching, burning, tightness, and tender trigger points of the muscles surrounding the affected area. Often, pain is felt in areas away from the injured area and along a specific distribution, known as referred pain. These symptoms usually worsen with movement or as the day progresses and feel better in the morning or with rest. These symptoms can make it difficult to find a comfortable position for sleep or may wake you with changes in position while sleeping.

  • Aching, Burning, Tightness, and Tender Trigger Points of Surrounding Muscles
  • Referred Pain in Areas Away from the Injured Area
  • Worsening Symptoms with Movement
  • Discomfort and Difficulty Sleeping

Diagnosis of Muscle Spasms or Myofascial Pain Syndrome

There are currently no specific laboratory tests to diagnose Muscle Spasm and Myofascial Pain Syndrome, and therefore a physical exam by a physical therapist can diagnose the condition. The physical therapist will begin by performing a functional exam to determine the underlying movement dysfunction that needs to be addressed. S/he will then use her/his hands to assess the joint mobility and muscular pliability in the area of pain to determine the presence of taut bands of muscle and locating specific Trigger Points within the muscle.

Treatment of Muscle Spasms or Myofascial Pain Syndrome with Physical Therapy

Treatment for Muscle Spasm Myofascial Pain Syndrome involves addressing the underlying cause of the condition as well as managing the pain produced by the spasms. Manual therapy interventions are found to be very beneficial in treatment of this condition. Techniques of joint mobilization, soft tissue mobilization- including Trigger Point Dry Needling- and muscular retraining are proven to be significantly effective treatments. Specific exercises to improve blood flow through the muscles are beneficial.

An individualized exercise program to address postural, strength and control deficits is developed for each patient’s specific problem. Re-education of breathing patterns is also found to be helpful. Relaxation techniques and assistance in stress management are key components of the treatment when stress is noted to be a significant source of the symptoms. Education on proper techniques and postures for work, athletic and daily activity is an essential component of treatment. Education regarding the effects of diet on tissue health may be provided as well.

Find Location | Muscle Spasm or Myofascial Pain Syndrome | Results Physiotherapy

Prevention Tips for Muscle Spasms or Myofascial Pain Syndrome

As Muscle Spasm and Myofascial Pain Syndrome is generally a result of undue stress, avoiding or limiting these stressors can help to minimize or prevent the symptoms. Reducing mental stress, maintaining good sleep and dietary habits, exercising regularly, and practicing relaxation techniques are all beneficial in reducing the risk and/or impact of the condition. Ensuring good posture and mechanics with positioning for work, household activities and community tasks can help as well.

Articles Related to Muscle Spasms or Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Dry Needling Icon

Request an Appointment


We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site, we will assume that you are happy with these terms.