Stress Management, Well-being and Self-Care

Myofascial Pain Syndrome:  How I uncovered and conquered a mysterious source of chronic pain.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome: How I uncovered and conquered a mysterious source of chronic pain.

by James Porter January 19, 2024

One simple change I’ve made while traveling, is to always book hotels with some sort of fitness center and I make a point of working out every morning.

In Part 1 of this blog on Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS), I wrote about a mysterious and sometimes debilitating pain that I would experience in my leg muscles and lower back at certain times of the year: usually when it started getting colder in the late fall and warmer in the early spring. As I got older it seemed to come on during, or more often, after periods when I was traveling. These were usually times where I wasn’t eating that well or exercising right. For a while I attributed this intermittent source of pain to an undiagnosed case of Lyme Disease. 

When my yoga teacher started talking about the connection between inflammation, fascia and chronic pain, over a dozen years ago, I was still clueless as to the source of my pain. Her message didn’t sink in at first. While some doctors had suggested that it might be an arthritic condition or fibromyalgia, my pain was never in my joints as it usually is with both those conditions and they NEVER mentioned MPS. Then I finally put two and two together and started learning about fascia and looking for more information online.  When I came across this link to the Cleveland clinic the causes and the cures for MPS matched up perfectly with what I was experiencing. 

What the Cleveland Clinic recommends doing for MPS, were all the things I typically wasn’t doing while traveling: 

  • Getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Reducing your stress.
  • Getting proper exercise.
  • Practicing relaxation methods.
  • Eating a balanced diet.
  • Staying hydrated. 

And all the things I was eating on the road were all the foods that can cause inflammation like:

  • Fried foods
  • Dairy
  • Refined carbohydrates and foods with refined flour (pastries, white bread, pastas, breakfast cereals, pizza).
  • Margarine, butter, vegetable oil.
  • Sugary foods and beverages such as soft drinks.
  • Red meat. 

If you remember my story from part one of this series, these MPS symptoms – that no doctor had ever properly explained the source of – would come on only AFTER I returned and restarted my old (healthy) routines. That had me confused at first, and then I realized, well of course it wasn’t the return of my healthy routine that was causing the pain, it was a delayed reaction to the absence of that routine while I was away. This was a huge discovery for me and allowed me to address this chronic problem without the need for pain medication that only would have masked the symptoms not treated them. 

Now I’m more careful to eat right and exercise when I’m away. And if I do feel this pain coming on it’s not a mystery anymore and I know exactly what to do to keep it from getting any worse: Exercise, yoga and eating right cures the problem every time.

James Porter
James Porter