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The role of Hyaluronic acid (HA) in treating myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) By Jesse Branham, BA Exercise Science

muscle fascia

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder. In MPS, points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in seemingly unrelated parts of your body – called referred pain. MPS often occurs in active people and athletes, after repetitive muscle contractions.

Research indicates that the muscle is covered with fibrous sheaths (fascia) that help keep the muscle in place. “When muscles contract to actuate a movement, they simultaneously stretch the same fascia into which they extend expansions. So, according to the various motions, specific muscles are activated, but also select portions of the deep fascia to be stretched by the action of their specific myofascial expansions” (Stecco et al., p. 352/2 of 10, 2013)*. Beneath the fascia lies fluid that supports both the fascia and muscle tissue. This fluid is rich in hyaluronic acid (HA), keeping fascia and muscle viscous and supple.

muscle fascial & HA

Muscles function smoothly by sliding – and pain occurs when this sliding is disrupted by inflammation due to the repeated muscle contractions. Friction from degraded fluid with lower levels of HA can cause irritation and swelling within the muscle. “High molecular weight HA occurs in the body as a hydrating, space filling polymer. Such HA reflects normal, intact, healthy tissue, and does so by supporting normal homeostasis, suppressing cell proliferation, migration, angiogenesis, inflammation, and immunogenicity” (Stecco et al., p. 352/5 of 10, 2013).

If you are active and feeling the effects of MPS, massage and manipulation are recommended treatment options. These options help normalize muscle gliding and restore HA viscosity. Supplementing daily with oral, liquid HA can also support healthy gliding and sliding, increasing hydration within the fascia itself. Reduced friction can lead to less inflammation – combating the soreness you experience with MPS.

*Stecco, A., Gesi, M., Stecco, C., & Stern, R. (2013). Fascial components of the myofascial pain syndrome. Current Pain And Headache Reports, 17(8), 352. doi:10.1007/s11916-013-0352-9

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