Who Gets MPS?
Myofascial Pain Syndromes don’t appear to affect everyone equally. While the U.S. population seems to have only a 2% to 8% rate of MPS, this translates to a minimum of 8 million people at any given time. The condition, for reasons unknown, affects women more than men. Women are more likely to suffer from MPS by a ratio of about 7:1. Interestingly, though, the difference in incidence between girls and boys is negligible. Obviously, a lot more research must be done on this issue because by explaining this difference may point to better ways to treat the condition.
MPS can affect people of all ages but the diagnosis usually happens between the ages of 20 and 55 years. There is some speculation that younger people aren’t diagnosed as often because their muscles and fascia are better able to cope with stresses.
Race appears to have no affect upon the likelihood of contracting this condition. It seems to occur equally in all races and cultures. MPS has been found worldwide with very similar rates as noted for the U.S.
How does this affect the broader society? With some form of MPS experienced by as many as 1/10th of the population, there must be immeasurable consequences to all aspects of social structure. MPS patients are not the only victims of the condition. Family, friends and co-workers are also affected. Studies have shown that about 1/3 of patients must alter their work habits to accommodate for disabilities related to job requirements. These alterations may result in a slower work pace and/or may require co-workers to do extra work to compensate.
Family may suffer due to the patient’s need to work fewer hours thus bringing home smaller paychecks. Some patients are forced to exchange their jobs for less strenuous ones that pay less. Interpersonal relationships can suffer due to depression, frustration or impatience. Financial commitments due to medical treatments may increase as income decreases, thus further increasing stress levels.
It is estimated, based upon a number of reports that long-term disability awards have been made to 15% to 45% of MPS patients. Considering disability payments and loss of productivity, the cost to society must be truly significant. One study found that MPS costs the U.S. economy an estimated $9 billion annually.
Another aspect of MPS is that it rarely occurs alone. It is frequently accompanied by one or more other conditions or diseases. We’ll discuss this topic in the next post, Part 5: Current Thought On Pain Reduction In MPS: What Else Might Be Involved?