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Ann Acad Med Singapore. 2007 Jan;36(1):43-8.

Myofascial pain--an overview.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore.


Skeletal muscle is the largest organ in the human body. Any of these muscles may develop pain and dysfunction. In modern society, myofascial pain is a major cause of morbidity. It may present as regional musculoskeletal pain, as neck or back pain mimicking radiculopathy. It may also present as shoulder pain with concomitant capsulitis, and hip or knee pain with concomitant osteoarthritis. The condition is treatable. However, it is often under-diagnosed and hence undertreated. Traditional medical training and management of musculoskeletal pain have focused much attention on bones, joints and nerves. This review will focus on muscles, myofascial pain and dysfunction. During history taking and physical examination, precipitating and perpetuating factors, taut bands, trigger points, tender spots and sensitised spinal segments have to be accurately located and correctly identified for effective needling treatment. There is also a high recurrence rate unless appropriate exercises are prescribed, with active participation from the patient, to restore flexibility and balance to the muscles. With rehabilitation, many patients do not have to continue to suffer unnecessary pain that affects their daily activities and quality of life. Early diagnosis and management may also help reduce psychosocial complications and financial burden of chronic pain syndrome.

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