Myofascial Pain

What is Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Before we can answer that question we first need to understand what is ‘Fascia’.

Well Fascia is the soft tissue component of connective tissue that surrounds every structure in the body from whole muscle groups to individual muscle fibres, all tendons, nerves, bone, around organs down to each individual cell and forms joint capsules, ligaments and blood vessels. It is like a 3-Dimensional net or body stocking reaching throughout the body and holding everything in place. It is very strong and yet mobile and in the normal hydrated healthy state fascia has the ability to move without restriction.

However it is common for dogs to develop fascial restrictions due to factors such as postural imbalances, emotional trauma, poor bio mechanics and repetitive motion as well as following injuries, accidents or any other kind of damage. Because fascia is entirely continuous throughout the body a restriction in one part will affect every other part. Adhesions of the fascia can result in abnormal pressure on nerves, muscles, bones and organs which can cause pain and malfunction throughout the body.

Myo = muscle so we talk about ‘Myofascia’ being associated with the fascia that surrounds the muscles and tendon fibres.

When injury, damage or restrictions occur in the muscles and Myofascial Trigger Points develop then pain, tenderness and restricted movement results and these can be the signs and symptoms of ‘Myofascial Pain Syndrome’ or ‘MPS’

If left untreated then MPS can progressively worsen causing unrelenting pain and discomfort as well as continued postural issues all of which can adversely affect the mood and behaviour or your dog.

So what are the symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome in dogs?

Well it is mainly recognised by trigger points in predictable locations in affected muscles and regions of hardness or taut bands within the muscles but other symptoms can include:

  • Deep aching pain in the muscle with tenderness to touch
  • Restricted movement in gait or postural imbalance i.e. limping or lameness
  • Lack of enthusiasm on walks
  • Depressed mood and non typical behaviour
  • Muscle stiffness or inability to stretch
  • Joint stiffness near the affected muscle(s)
  • Pain that persists or worsens over time
  • A palpable knot or tight spot in a muscle that is sensitive to touch – A Trigger Point

How can massage help canine Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Massage can help release sore and painful trigger points both in the fascia and muscles fibres as well as relieve tension in the muscles. Techniques such as Myofascial release affect the mechano receptors that are present in the fascia with the manual stimulation of these receptors helping to ease tension and tone. This is turn can relieve pain arising from physical and emotional trauma by helping the fascia to soften, re-hydrate and thus restore elasticity and decrease compression around other structures in your dog’s body.