Myofascial Pain Syndrome (Muscle
Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a fancy way to describe
muscle pain. It refers to pain and inflammation in the
body's soft tissues.
Myofascial pain is a
chronic condition that affects the fascia (connective
tissue that covers the muscles). Myofascial pain syndrome
may involve either a single muscle or a muscle group. In
some cases, the area where a person experiences the pain may
not be where the myofascial pain generator is located.
Experts believe that the actual site of the
injury or the strain prompts the development of a
trigger point that, in turn, causes pain in other areas.
This situation is known as
What Causes Myofascial Pain?
Myofascial pain may develop from a muscle injury or from
excessive strain on a particular muscle or muscle group,
ligament or tendon. Other causes include:
- Injury to intervertebral disc
- Repetitive motions
- Medical conditions (including
heart attack, stomach irritation)
- Lack of activity (such as a broken arm in a sling)
What Are the Symptoms of Myofascial Pain?
Myofascial pain symptoms usually involve muscle pain with
specific "trigger" or "tender" points. The pain can be made
worse with activity or stress. In addition to the local or
regional pain associated with myofascial pain syndrome,
people with the disorder also can suffer from
fatigue and behavioral disturbances.
How Is Myofascial Pain Diagnosed?
Trigger points can be identified by pain that results
when pressure is applied to an area of a person's body. In
the diagnosis of myofascial pain syndrome, four types of
trigger points can be distinguished:
- An active trigger point is an area
of extreme tenderness that usually lies within the
skeletal muscle and which is associated with a local or
- A latent trigger point is a dormant
(inactive) area that has the potential to act like a
- A secondary trigger point is a
highly irritable spot in a muscle that can become active
due to a trigger point and muscular overload in another
- A satellite myofascial point is a
highly irritable spot in a muscle that becomes inactive
because the muscle is in the region of another trigger
How Is Myofascial Pain Treated?
- Physical therapy
- "Stretch and spray" technique: This treatment
involves spraying the muscle and trigger point with a
coolant and then slowly stretching the muscle.
- Massage therapy
- Trigger point injection
chronic cases of myofascial pain, combinations of
trigger point injections, and massage are needed. In
select cases, medication is used to treat other conditions
that often occur with myofascial pain, such as insomnia and