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Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), also known as chronic myofascial pain (CMP), is a syndrome characterized by chronic pain caused by multiple trigger points and constrictions within fascia. Among the symptoms are referred pain, limited range of motion, and sleep disturbance.[1]


Myofascial pain can occur in distinct, isolated areas of the body, and because any muscle or fascia may be affected, this may cause a variety of localized symptoms. More generally speaking, the muscular pain is steady, aching, and deep. Depending on the case and location the intensity can range from mild discomfort to excruciating and "lightning-like".[2] Knots may be visible or felt beneath the skin. The pain does not resolve on its own, even after typical first-aid self-care such as ice, heat, and rest.[3]

MPS and fibromyalgia[]

MPS and fibromyalgia share some common symptoms, such as hyperirritability, but the two conditions are distinct. However, a patient may suffer from MPS and fibromyalgia at the same time.[4] In fibromyalgia, chronic pain and hyperirritability are pervasive. By contrast, while MPS pain may affect many parts of the body, it is still limited to trigger points and hot spots of referred pain.[5]


The precise causes of MPS are not fully documented or understood. Some systemic diseases, such as connective tissue disease, can cause MPS. [6] Poor posture and emotional disturbance might also instigate or contribute to MPS.[7]


Massage therapy using trigger-point release techniques may be effective in short-term pain relief.[8] Physical therapy involving gentle stretching and exercise is useful for recovering full range of motion and motor coordination. Once the trigger points are gone, muscle strengthening exercise can begin, supporting long-term health of the local muscle system.[9]

Three different types of drugs are used to treat myofascial pain: anti-depressants (primarily SNRIs), calcium channel blockers such as pregabalin (Lyrica), and muscle relaxants such as Baclofen.[citation needed]

Myofascial release, which involves gentle fascia manipulation and massage, may improve or remediate the condition.[10]

A systematic review concluded that dry needling for the treatment of myofascial pain syndrome in the lower back appeared to be a useful adjunct to standard therapies, but that clear recommendations could not be made because the published studies were small and of low quality.[11]

Posture evaluation and ergonomics may provide significant relief in the early stages of treatment.[12] Movement therapies such as Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais Method may also be helpful.[13]

See also[]


  1. (2001) "Fibromyalgia & Chronic Myofascial Pain: A Survival Manual.", 2nd, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
  2. Starlanyl & Copeland, 2001, p. 24
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff. Myofascial pain syndrome: Symptoms. URL accessed on 8 May 2011.
  4. Starlanyl & Copeland 2001, p. 8.
  5. Starlanyl & Copeland 2001, p. 28
  6. Gerwin, Robert (2005). Differential Diagnosis of Trigger Points. Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain 12 (3 & 4): 23–28.
  7. Fricton, James, Kroening, Richard; Haley, Dennis; Siegert, Ralf (1985). Myofascial pain syndrome of the head and neck: a review of clinical characteristics of 164 patients. Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology 60 (6): 615–623.
  8. Lee, Nam, You, Joshua (2007). Effects of trigger point pressure release on pain modulation and associated movement impairments in a patient with severe acute myofascial pain syndrome: a case report. The Pain Clinic 19 (2): 83–87.
  9. Starlanyl & Copeland 2001, p. 221
  10. Harris, R.E., Clauw, Daniel J. (2002). The Use of complementary medical therapies in the management of myofascial pain disorders. Current Pain and Headache Reports 6 (5): 370–374.
  11. Furlan AD, van Tulder MW, Cherkin DC, et al. (2005). Acupuncture and dry-needling for low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1): CD001351.
  12. Starlanyl & Copeland 2001, p. 230
  13. Starlanyl & Copeland 2001, p. 232.

External links[]

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