Myofascial Release of The Neck
Updated: Mar 7, 2022
We all experience some sort of muscle discomfort from time to time. Sometimes this discomfort lingers longer than expected. In such cases, the person is likely to suffer from myofascial pain. Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a type of pain that affects the muscles and fascia. The fascia is a thin, white connective tissue that wraps around all of your muscles. It links your muscles together, allowing them to contract and stretch.
MPS patients may have muscle pain and soreness in specific areas of their bodies, such as their legs, arms, or their neck. The pain and discomfort are typically caused by one or more "trigger points." When touched, trigger points feel like little lumps, nodules, or knots in your muscle.
Trigger points are knots in the muscles of your neck that have been twisted and bundled together, resulting in discomfort. They can arise as a result of a muscular injury or excessive tension on a single muscle or set of muscles, ligament, or tendon. Trigger points are also likely to form when a person's posture is bad. When a healthcare practitioner is involved early in the MPS treatment process, the odds of success are substantially higher. In other words, if you are experiencing prolonged muscular soreness, you should consult a doctor right away.
Myofascial Release Techniques for Neck Pain Relief
Although myofascial release techniques are emerging as a strategy backed by solid-evidence from recent studies, it’s always important to consult with a medical practitioner before performing these techniques to better understand the benefits and risks involved.
Let's examine these different methods of treating Myofascial pain.
Self-Myofascial Neck Release
There are a few ways you can self-medicate for myofascial neck pain:
Exercise is considered one of the most important treatments for relieving symptoms of myofascial neck pain. A proper exercise program can improve sleep patterns, strengthen muscles, and ultimately reduce pain in the neck.
▪ DIY self-myofascial release techniques
Massaging trigger points can provide temporary pain relief. Foam rollers, also known as styrofoam cylinders, are one device that can help reduce pain, sore spots, and stiffness in the neck. Other massage devices include tennis balls and massage hooks.
▪ Heat therapy
Heat expands the local blood vessels and increases blood flow to the painful area to relax the contracted muscles. It takes a long time for heat to penetrate deep into the muscles. In the case of chronic neck pain, up to 30 minutes is recommended.
▪ Relaxation techniques
While employing other pain-alleviating methods, learning to relax the body is also crucial. This is where focus and deep breathing techniques come in. Meditation and deep breathing exercises reduce stress and muscle tension in the body.
Myofascial Neck Pain Exercises
There are some exercises you can engage in to relieve symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome. This section describes a few, along with the main instructions for each.
▪ Neck extension
While keeping your shoulders and back motionless, gently look up and bring your head backward. Try to maintain the stretch for five seconds without aggravating the pain before returning it to its original position. Throughout this workout, you'll feel a stretch from the front of the neck to the throat.
▪ Neck flexion
Gradually lower your chin to your chest and look down, moving only your head. With the head fully bent forward, hold the stretch for five seconds before returning to the initial position. This exercise is felt throughout the back of the neck.
▪ Lateral neck flexion
Slowly turn your head to one side, bringing your left ear near your left shoulder, for example. The shoulders and back should stay steady as the neck is bent to the side during this stretch. Try to keep this position for five seconds after bending your head to the side as much as you can before restoring it to a neutral position. After that, repeat the stretch in the opposite way.
▪ Aerobic conditioning
Aerobic exercise, sometimes known as "cardio," improves blood flow to the muscles and neck tissue. As a result, the muscles relax and move more freely. Furthermore, the body releases endorphins, which aid in alleviating pain after just half an hour of exercise. You can do cardio daily with ease. Cardio workouts like running or cycling are common. It's a good idea to start with an active stroll if you haven't done cardiovascular exercise in a while.
Treatments For Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Physical therapy, trigger point injections, and medications are common treatments for myofascial pain syndrome. Although, there isn't any compelling evidence to support the use of one therapy over another.
▪ Myofascial Release Therapy
Myofascial Release Therapy or MFR is a form of physical therapy used to relieve pain. It loosens or stretches the fascia, allowing the fascia and other adjacent structures to move more freely. Health professionals like chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists can provide myofascial therapy.
The therapist or other practitioner utilizes their hands to identify and work with fascial tension during a myofascial release treatment. MFR therapists are trained to spot tension in the fascia by minor changes. To properly stretch out the fascia, the therapist usually applies pressure in opposite directions to the patient's skin—this aids in the relaxation of the fascia, which is necessary when dealing with trigger points.
▪ Acupuncture or Dry-Needling
Like other Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture views all health problems holistically. The needles used are thin and sterile, so all treatments are safe and efficient. According to TCM, stimulating acupuncture points for neck pain helps to release energy, which flows seamlessly through the body and brings general well-being.
Acupuncture affects blood flow and biochemical changes at both the central nervous system and the puncture site. These changes may provide pain relief and other benefits to a person's overall health.
One study found that 68% of patients reported improvement in their chronic neck pain by at least 50%. The success rate was higher for patients with shorter duration of neck pain. These results offer encouraging signs that acupuncture may be an effective form of treatment for patients with chronic neck pain.
When considering accupuncture, always check their credentials. Most states require a registration, certification or license to practice acupuncture. Additionally, don’t see an acupuncture to delay seeing a healthcare provider about a particular health problem.
▪ Trigger Point Injections
Neck discomfort is frequently treated with trigger point injections. The primary benefit of utilizing these injections to treat trigger points in the neck is that they are injected directly into the muscles, causing immediate relief from inflammation and pain. The injection may contain corticosteroids as well as a local anesthetic or saline.
Consequently, the pain is relieved, and the trigger point is rendered inactive due to the injection. It's also a safe and simple operation that takes only a few minutes to complete. The pharmaceutical utilized is non-toxic, which means patients may take it without fear of adverse side effects.
Benefits of Myofascial Release
Stretching can treat myofascial pain to some extent. However, myofascial release is more effective since it penetrates the muscle to reach the tight fascia within. It provides many health and wellness benefits, some of which are:
▪ Reduces Pain and Discomfort
The ability of myofascial release(MFR) techniques to reduce pain is one of its main advantages. The pain is relieved by addressing trigger points in the neck, which are responsible for the intense agony experienced by MPS patients. Also, patients often experience a lot of discomfort since moving the afflicted body parts is difficult. The patient can regain comfort when moving about, thanks to MFR.
▪ Boosts Circulation
MFR also helps increase blood circulation in the parts of the body engaged during treatment. While the therapist massages the fascia surrounding the muscles in pain or discomfort, they actively remove any 'knots' or stiffness caused by physical activity. When done appropriately, the self-myofascial release has the same effect. When this tension is relieved by massage treatment and the fascial knots are relaxed, the general circulation in the area improves, and the muscles heal faster than they would otherwise.
▪ Improves Muscle Function
Improved skeletal muscle function is another major benefit of myofascial release. MFR is a go-to treatment for people suffering from diminished muscular function since it allows waste products to be removed from the muscles and fascia around them. Not to mention, therapy has been shown to relieve stiffness and stress.
Chiropractic Tips for Treating Cervical Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Chiropractors provide effective pain management solutions such as neck adjustments that help loosen up the joints of the cervical vertebrae in the neck. At Natural Care Chiropractic, we are confident that chiropractic and natural health care can effectively alleviate cervical discomfort. Patients can easily manage MPS without medical therapy by making a few easy lifestyle modifications.
You should perform continuous stretching and home exercises combined with your chiropractic treatment plan to keep neck discomfort at bay. Here are some suggestions: Before exercising, use a heating pad or other thermotherapy equipment to loosen tight muscles and joints so they can stretch easily. To reduce inflammation, apply a cold compress to your joints and muscles after you've completed exercising. Neck massages can also loosen muscle knots in the neck and shoulders to relieve pain.
Neck discomfort is also linked to bad lifestyle habits such as poor posture. Natural Care Chiropractic can help you make lifestyle changes that will help you feel better right away. We can help you adjust your work environment to make it more conducive. Other than that, practice mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing to alleviate stress. Finally, try to avoid repeating the same neck positions. Start by switching your previous sleeping position to one that is more pleasant for your neck.
Understanding the root cause of myofascial pain is the first step in regaining wholeness. Adequate therapy can address the cause and get rid of the pain in the neck. Call Natural Care Chiropractic now to schedule an appointment and get the treatment and care you need.