A multitude of conditions can cause fascial pain. Although the pain may be very similar in each case, the underlying causes are often very different, depending upon individual health status and daily living.
Treating these fascial pain conditions is typically significantly more successful once you identify and treat its underlying cause. Early diagnosis would help avoid future problems and prevent the condition from worsening. Ultrasound can see normal and abnormal fascial, to identify myofascial scar, or scarring involving both the fascia and the scar, as well as to evaluate the effect of the scar on the contractility of the underlying muscle, which the fascial scar may restrict.
What Is Fascia?
Fascia is the connective tissue system that covers all the organs in your body, including muscles and bones. It’s made up mostly of collagen and water and houses a network of nerves and blood vessels. Approximately 85% of people experience myofascial pain at some point in their lives.
Fascia Affects The Whole Body, Not Just One Part
Fascial dysfunction is a condition in which the connective tissues of our body (including ligaments, tendons, and muscles) do not function properly. It can cause pain and discomfort in different body parts.
The fascia is the thin, white connective tissue that is wrapped around and courses within every muscle. It is a complex network of water, strong connective tissue cells such as collagen and neurovascular structures arranged in multiple layers with liquid in between. Your fascia holds your muscles together, which allows them to contract and stretch. Fascia also provides a slick surface so that individual muscle fibers, single muscles and muscle groups can slide against each other without creating friction, tearing or causing other problems. When it dries up and tightens around muscles, it can limit mobility and cause painful knots to develop.
A common disorder called Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome (CMP) is a chronic pain disorder that affects your muscles and fascia. This syndrome typically occurs after a muscle has been contracted repetitively. This can be caused by repetitive motions used in jobs or hobbies or by stress-related muscle tension. While nearly everyone has experienced muscle tension pain, the discomfort associated with myofascial pain syndrome persists or worsens. When there is fascial dysfunction, it can manifest as pain and send messages to the brain that the underlying muscle, nerve, ligament or nerve is damaged even if it is not.
Fascial Dysfunction — What Causes It, And How Does It Feel?
Determining whether your pain is due to muscles, joints, or fascia can be difficult. In general, fascial adhesions tend to feel better with movement and also respond well to heat therapy, which increases blood flow and helps bring back the tissue’s elasticity.
The neurovascular network within the fascia is composed of somatic fibers (pain and function fibers) and autonomic fibers (sympathetic and parasympathetic fibers relating to stress, anxiety, peace and calm). Because of this close relationship, fascial pain can be triggered by either physical abnormalities or mind-body disturbances such as stress and anxiety.
3 Steps To Treat Fascial Dysfunction
When you damage your fascia, it will take time to heal. You may not even realize your fascia is injured, so it may be difficult to figure out how to treat it.
Here are three steps to treat your fascial dysfunction:
Stretch Your Muscles and Use Moist Heat
Your fascia will need some time to heal. As it is related to fascial adhesions to the muscle, you will need to stretch your muscles slowly, so the adhesions are gently disrupted, allowing more normal contraction of the underlying muscle. .
Before stretching, it is important to make sure your body/muscles are warm so you do not tear the muscle fibers. Stretching is best to do after exercise and then followed by moist heat for increased blood flow to support soft tissue healing.
As described above, the fascia is made up of layers with liquid between them. For the fascia to work properly and to aid in the gliding of the muscle fibers, it needs to be adequately hydrated. Dehydration leads to limited mobility and the formation of trigger points in the muscles further increasing musculoskeletal pain and discomfort.
You should drink at least eight glasses of water daily, but you may need more if you are active or exposed to hot weather. If you have fascial dysfunction, staying hydrated is even more critical.
Due to the extensive autonomic nerve network within fascia, breathing techniques, guided meditation, acupressure/acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and fostering deep, meaningful positive social interactions in your treatment plan are essential to healing. It is impossible to separate your physical self from your mind/ emotions/spirit. The fascia and pain related to the fascia is a prime example of how true that is.
How To Stretch Fascia Using Self-Myofascial Release Techniques To Prevent Damage
Fascia doesn’t damage easily. However, consistent pain and pressure can weaken the fascia and cause it to become prone to damage.
This is where Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) comes in. If you want to stretch your fascia, use self-myofascial release techniques. These can increase blood flow and break down scar tissue in the body’s soft tissues.
You can use a variety of tools or none at all! If you feel body aches or pain after practicing these techniques, there’s nothing to worry about, as it is your body’s reaction to releasing toxins.
How To Restore Fascial Function Using Self-Myofascial Release Techniques And Active Stretching
You can restore your fascia’s function and alleviate pain using the proper techniques. For example, self-myofascial release techniques are easy to perform, and you can do them regularly to keep your fascia healthy.
Many people wonder if it’s possible to overstretch your fascia. Yes, it’s possible, so it’s best to be careful when stretching because you may tear lesions or ligaments. Always add moist heat after you are done.
Myofascial Release Foam Roller
A foam roller is one of the best ways to stretch your fascia. It’s easy to use, and you can do it at home.
- Lie on the floor with your target muscle on the roller.
- Roll up and down over your back, hips, or other areas where you are experiencing pain.
The foam roller will help break up any adhesions in your fascia causing pain. It’s also a great way to stretch out your muscles and loosen them up before or after exercise. Make sure you roll out all of your muscles on both sides of your body, even if there is no pain, to keep your fascia and muscles supple. It is important to ensure you only roll over areas where there is underlying bone to avoid internal organ damage.
Myofascial Release Tennis Ball
Using a tennis ball is another great way to stretch your fascia. Of course, you can use this technique in the same way you would a foam roller.
The idea behind this technique is that the tennis ball will help break up scar tissue and adhesions in your fascia. It can also help loosen up muscles that have become tight or stiff from overuse.
- Lie on the floor or stand against a wall.
- Roll around the tennis ball in different directions until you find the one that offers some relief. You can even use this along the bottoms of your feet.
A self-myofascial release shouldn’t cause pain or discomfort. If you are using too much pressure, you could be damaging your fascia/muscle instead of releasing it.
You also want to avoid applying direct pressure to your joints; this could lead to problems.
What Are The Benefits Of Treating Fascial Dysfunction?
Treating fascial dysfunction is one of the best ways to eliminate pain, uneasiness, and discomfort. Here are some of its benefits:
Boosting Your Range Of Motion
One of the best benefits of treating fascial dysfunction is improved range of motion. This can be a huge relief if you struggle with pain and stiffness.
You may notice that your range of motion increases as your treatment progresses. This can help you feel more comfortable in your body and make it easier to do what you enjoy.
Reducing Soreness And Speeding Up Tissue Recovery
Fascia is the connective tissue surrounding bones, organs, muscles, and nerves. When it becomes dysfunctional, it can cause pain because it prevents muscles from performing their full range of motion.
When you treat fascial dysfunction, you are helping your body heal by restoring mobility to these areas so they can work more efficiently. Gentle exercises like walking and aerobic activity can ease muscle tightness.
Improved Mood and Decreased Anxiety
Since an integral part of the treatment of the fascia is the mind-body connection, as the pain is controlled and fascial function improves, so will your peace of mind as you become calmer and more centered. Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong are wonderful ways to heal your fascia. They combine physical movement through slow methodical stretching and various breathing techniques to enhance the parasympathetic nervous system. Add adequate hydration, and you have the best treatment for fascial pain and dysfunction.
What Happens If Myofascial Pain Syndrome Is Left Untreated?
If left untreated, myofascial pain syndrome can become a debilitating chronic pain disorder that will continue to worsen over time.
Does Myofascial Pain Ever Go Away?
Yes, but myofascial pain only goes away with treatment involving both physical and mind-body therapies.
The Bottom Line
Myofascial pain syndrome is a disorder that occurs when skeletal muscles become too tight due to injury or overuse. Healthcare providers approach treatment for pain related to an underlying fascial condition in various ways to improve quality of life.
The first step to reducing pain in patients is to identify the underlying causes. Employing hydration, slow methodical stretching and regular mind-body support are key to treating pain from fascial dysfunction. .
If the pain persists, it may be necessary to consult with a specialist to determine if any underlying medical conditions need to be addressed before treating the pain itself.
Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if relaxation does not relieve muscle soreness. You may require more directed therapy to release the fascial scar such as Ultrasound-guided needle treatments in the cases of physical restriction by scar tissue of the underlying muscle and/or Infrared laser to help heal scar tissue and reset the nerve electrical impulses to a more normal level so the fascia can transmit the correct signals to the brain.