The neck ensures that the head is upright in the body while providing mobility to rotate, bend, and tilt in various directions. The neck is part of the cervical spine and provides sensory-motor functions from the nerve pathways spread out along the shoulders and upper back. When traumatic events or injuries affect the cervical spine and cause pain to the neck over time, however, if not treated, it can lead to problematic symptoms associated with muscle pain. Neck pain can lead to muscle stiffness and cause myofascial trigger pain associated with referred pain along the rest of the upper body. Today’s article looks at the effects of neck pain, how it is associated with myofascial trigger pain, and ways to manage neck pain associated with myofascial trigger pain. We refer patients to certified providers specializing in musculoskeletal treatments to aid individuals suffering from neck pain associated with myofascial trigger pain. We also guide our patients by referring them to our associated medical providers based on their examination when it’s appropriate. We find that education is the solution to asking our providers insightful questions. Dr. Jimenez DC provides this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer
The Effects Of Neck Pain
Have you been feeling muscle stiffness around your neck and shoulders? Do you experience random headaches that affect your day? What about feeling tingling sensations along your arms and hands? These symptoms are associated with neck pain and can affect many individuals if not treated over time. Many people who suffer from neck pain will feel muscle stiffness that affects not only the sides of the neck but around the shoulders and their upper back. Studies reveal that neck pain is a multifactorial musculoskeletal disorder that affects the worldwide population and can become a chronic problem. Risk factors associated with the contributing development of neck pain include:
- Poor posture
- Sleep position
- Neuromusculoskeletal disorders
- Auto accidents
- Traumatic events
Many of these risk factors associated with neck pain can cause pain symptoms and cause pain in different locations of the body, making diagnosing the pain source problematic for doctors.
Neck Pain Associated With Myofascial Trigger Pain
Since neck pain is common for many individuals, one of the symptoms associated with muscle stiffness and tenderness is myofascial trigger pain overlapping neck pain. Studies reveal that the formation of trigger points is caused when various physical activities begin to yield repetitive stress or cause micro-tears in the definite muscle groups that can cause tension within the muscle fibers. To that point, knots in the taut band of the muscles become hypersensitive and produce referred pain, tenderness, motor dysfunction, and autonomic phenomena. When the neck suffers from a traumatic event that affects the spine, over time can create trigger points or myofascial pain. It is difficult to diagnose where the pain is located in the body because myofascial trigger pain often mimics other pain conditions. It can confuse many individuals as they think they are suffering from one pain, but it’s a different pain that affects their body. Other studies reveal that individuals with myofascial pain syndrome associated with neck pain have a tender point within the tight muscular band, causing local discomfort. To that point, myofascial pain can cause referral pain in remote areas like cervical spine disorders like herniation can often be confused with myofascial pain when there is referral pain in the upper extremities of the body. Some of the symptoms associated with myofascial trigger pain that affects the neck include:
- Deep, aching pain
- Muscle tenderness in the neck or shoulders
- Tingling sensation or numbness down the arms and hands
- Muscle stiffness
Neck Pain & Trigger Points- Video
Are you experiencing numbness that is running down your shoulders to your hands? What about muscle stiffness along the sides of the neck or shoulders? Or do headaches seem to pop out of nowhere and affect your day? You could risk suffering from neck pain associated with myofascial trigger pain. The video above explains how neck pain is associated with trigger points and how to trigger pain can be primary or secondary to neck pain. Studies reveal that myofascial pain syndrome is a common muscular pain disorder that is misunderstood and involves referred pain to form minor, tender trigger points within the muscles. To that point, myofascial pain associated with neck pain may be consistent with specific patterns of pain associated with each trigger point, contributing factors like emotional, postural, and behavioral factors that cause tension in the neck and frequently related symptoms from various conditions make diagnosing difficult. Since myofascial trigger points are complex and mimic other conditions that affect a different body part, many believe that different ailments affect their body than the actual ailment itself. Thankfully there are ways to manage neck pain associated with myofascial trigger pain and relieve muscle pain.
Ways To Manage Neck Pain Associated With Myofascial Trigger Pain
Since myofascial trigger pain associated with the neck can be a bit complex and challenging to diagnose, many doctors will refer patients to a physical therapist, a chiropractor, or another spine specialist to examine the trigger points causing neck pain. Various treatments can range from home remedies to severe muscle injections, depending on how severe the injuries are since everyone’s pain is different. Some of the available treatments that can reduce and manage myofascial neck pain include:
- Exercising (helps stretch and strengthen neck and upper back muscles)
- Massage (helps loosen stiff muscles in the neck and shoulders)
- Heat therapy (helps relax and increase blood flow to the affected area)
- Chiropractic care (uses spinal manipulation to prevent further pain issues from happening)
- Acupuncture (helps to relax the trigger point and relieve pain)
Incorporating these various treatments can provide beneficial relief to those suffering from myofascial neck pain and help manage the symptoms associated with the body.
The neck provides mobility to the head as it can rotate, bend, and tilt in various directions while providing sensory-motor functions to the shoulders and upper back from the nerve roots in the cervical spine. When traumatic forces impact the neck, myofascial trigger pain can lead to neck pain. Myofascial trigger pain associated with neck pain is where tiny knots in the affected neck muscles become tender and stiff, which causes referred pain to different locations in the body. Myofascial neck pain is challenging to diagnose but manageable to treat with various treatments and techniques that can release the knots from the affected muscle and prevent future symptoms from happening. This allows many individuals to feel relief from their neck pain and continue their wellness journey.
Alghadir, Ahmad H, et al. “Efficacy of Combination Therapies on Neck Pain and Muscle Tenderness in Male Patients with Upper Trapezius Active Myofascial Trigger Points.” BioMed Research International, Hindawi, 10 Mar. 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7085833/.
Ezzati, Kamran, et al. “Prevalence of Cervical Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Its Correlation with the Severity of Pain and Disability in Patients with Chronic Non-Specific Neck Pain.” The Archives of Bone and Joint Surgery, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mar. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8121028/.
Fricton, J R, et al. “Myofascial Pain Syndrome of the Head and Neck: A Review of Clinical Characteristics of 164 Patients.” Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, and Oral Pathology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 1985, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3865133/.
Kazeminasab, Somaye, et al. “Neck Pain: Global Epidemiology, Trends and Risk Factors.” BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, BioMed Central, 3 Jan. 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8725362/.
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The information herein on "Neck Pain Associated With Myofascial Trigger Pain" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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