Your myofascial tissues are what enclose and separate the layers of muscle in your body. Chronic myofascial pain is a common pain condition, and its prevalence is growing. Among middle-aged people, myofascial pain affects around 37% of men and 65% of women, but among the elderly, those numbers jump to 85% for the combined gender groups. Because the elderly population is expected to double before 2040, chronic myofascial pain is likely going to be a major challenge for health-care into the future.
Chiropractors have long used spinal adjustments as a means to manage musculoskeletal disorders and pain, including chronic myofascial pain. Many report the benefits among their patients receiving spinal therapy. But how and why does chiropractic work on muscle pain?
Researchers have explored the neurophysiological mechanisms and potential therapeutic applications of spinal therapy in treating and managing myofascial pain. Studies have suggested painful trigger points in the myofascial tissues may contribute to this chronic pain condition.
For a new study, researchers investigated if spinal adjustments could produce immediate pain relief by increasing patients’ pressure pain thresholds in myofascial trigger points. They recruited 36 young adults with clinically identifiable myofascial trigger points, randomly assigning each participant to receive spinal adjustment therapy or to the control group receiving sham spinal care. Pressure pain thresholds were measured before treatment and again 1, 5, 10, and 15 minutes after the intervention.
They discovered that adjustments evoked immediate increases in pressure pain thresholds. Compared to the control group, the treatment group experienced decreased pain sensitivity. The researchers concluded that spinal adjustments can reduce myofascial pain in healthy young adults.
This study contributed to a growing body of evidence supporting spinal adjustments as a safe and effective way to manage pain, as well as a greater understanding of the role of trigger points in chronic pain conditions. Studies have shown that spinal adjustments can have immediate biological benefits, can ease jaw pain, and can relieve childhood headache, just to name a few benefits. In addition, a former study found that treatment options specifically focused on trigger points are effective for back pain relief.
Srbely J, Vernon H, Lee D, Polgar M. Immediate effects of spinal manipulative therapy on regional antinociceptive effects in myofascial tissues in healthy young adults. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2013 [Epub before print; currently in press.] Accessed at http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0161-4754/PIIS0161475413001073.pdf.