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Papers of the Week

2022 Feb




Inflammatory Biochemical Mediators and Their Role in Myofascial Pain and Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment: A Literature Review.


Chronic inflammatory pain conditions, specifically myofascial pain (MFP), account for an overwhelming percentage of office visits every day. The combination of the high cost of its treatment and frequent patient visits makes MFP a critical pathology to be investigated. Sharpening our understanding of the molecular mechanisms within MFP will expedite the enhancement of therapeutic approaches. Inflammation plays a critical role in the pathophysiology of MFP. The chief inflammatory mediators of interest in this review related to MFP are interleukin 1β (IL-1β), IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). This review aimed to determine the impact of inflammatory mediators on fibroblasts and satellite cells, specifically their role in muscle injury and regeneration. Blocking pro-inflammatory mediators such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α in these cell types could prove to be an effective treatment for MFP. An osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) modality, specifically indirect counterstrain therapy, was investigated in the hopes of elucidating a reduction in particular cytokines. In addition, myofascial release (MFR) therapies (OMT modality) were explored as a potentially effective treatment through the acceleration of wound healing, stimulation of muscle regeneration, and decreased inflammation via altered fibroblast activity. Pharmacologic agents such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to treat MFP but have a higher adverse side effect profile compared to OMT therapy. The optimal management of MFP is likely multifactorial, and more treatment modalities must be explored. This literature review analyzed 17 peer-reviewed articles specifically related to MFP management and the role of inflammation in MFP. Chronic inflammation from other etiologies was excluded. Our aim was to elucidate the biochemical mechanisms underlying MFP and inflammation in an effort to promote the medical community's understanding of treatment modalities for this chronic condition. This study revealed that various OMT techniques such as MFR and counterstrain lead to changes on the cellular level in MFP. Discovering similar effects on biochemical inflammatory markers with non-pharmacologic treatment modalities was an exciting revelation and one that could potentially change the way physicians address pain management.