A huge amount of stress can cause a variety of health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart issues, obesity, and diabetes. It can affect your sleeping habits, concentration, motivation, mood, and overall well-being. Chronic stress can show up as a stress-related muscle condition, in which your muscles remain in a more or less constant state of tightness and tension.
Normally, your muscles tense up when you’re stressed and release once you’ve relaxed yourself. This is how your body reacts to guard itself against injury and pain. But if you’re under constant stress, your muscles may not get the chance to relax, resulting in strain due to persistent muscle tension, and so become tight. Over time, this can cause inflammation of the muscle and its associated fascial covering, and develops into an intense muscular pain, known as myofascial pain syndrome or MPS.
Other causes of MPS that are not related to stress are muscle injuries and poor posture.
Myofascial pain syndrome differs from simple muscle pain in the fact that it’s a chronic pain. It presents as deep, aching pain in the muscle and the associated muscle fascia, which persists or worsens. A distinguishing feature is a tender muscle knot or trigger point in a taut band of muscle, which when compressed may produce localized pain and/or referred pain, or the pain that develops at distant and seemingly unrelated parts of the body. In addition, MPS can also trigger a local twitch response, which is a quick contraction of the muscle in or around the taut band that is reproduced by snapping palpation (rapid compression across the muscle).
A more severe stress-related condition is fibromyalgia. It is different from MPS in such a way that pain and tenderness in fibromyalgia are present throughout the body, while in MPS it’s confined to a specific area. MPS also involves mainly muscular pain, whereas fibromyalgia involves widespread body pain, along with other symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue and mood changes among others.
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