Cervical myofasciitis is an inflammation of the muscles and fascia (connective tissue) of the neck. This can be due to sudden trauma (such as whiplash injury) or chronic stress or overuse. Unlike a single “pulled” muscle which improves with rest, myofasciitis tends to persist and worsen. Chronic inflammation can lead to scarring.
Signs and symptoms of cervical myofasciitis.
Myofasciitis is characterized by pain and tenderness in a specific muscular region. Although it can affect various locations in the body (e.g., low back, buttocks, legs and arms), it is probably most common in the region of the neck.
Palpation of the affected muscle group(s) typically reveals deep-seated nodules and/or taut bands of muscle. These areas are hyperirritable and are called “trigger points.” Neck range of motion may be restricted. Patients frequently complain of poorly localized neck pain. They may also complain of radiation of the pain into the arm. The pain frequently interferes with sleep.
Treatment of cervical myofasciitis.
Medications used in the treatment of cervical myofasciitis include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen), muscle relaxants, tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Physical therapy is used to stretch the tight muscle groups using massage, exercise and “spray-and-stretch” techniques. Trigger point injections with local anesthetic and steroid are used to “break up” the tension in these areas.