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What is myofascial pain syndrome?
Most people have muscle pain from time to
time. But myofascial pain is a kind of ongoing or longer-lasting pain that can
affect the connective tissue (fascia) of a muscle or group of muscles. With
myofascial pain, there are areas called trigger points. Trigger points are
usually in fascia or in a tight muscle.
Myofascial pain often goes away with treatment.
What causes myofascial pain syndrome?
don't know exactly what causes myofascial pain syndrome. It may start
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom of myofascial pain syndrome is ongoing or longer-lasting
muscle pain, in areas such as the low back, neck, shoulders, and chest. You
might feel the pain or the pain may get worse when you press on a trigger
point. The muscle may be swollen or hard—you may hear it called a "taut band"
of muscle or "knot" in the muscle. Symptoms of myofascial pain may include:
People with myofascial pain syndrome may have other health
problems, such as
depression, sleep problems, and
fatigue. These problems are common in people who have
How is myofascial pain syndrome diagnosed?
To diagnose myofascial pain syndrome, your doctor
will ask if you have had a recent injury, where the pain is, how long you have
had the pain, what makes it better or worse, and if you have any other
The doctor will also give you a physical exam. He or
she will press on different areas to see if the pressure causes pain.
You may have tests to see if some
other condition is causing your pain.
How is it treated?
Talk to your doctor about the best way to treat
your pain. The main treatment may include any of the following:
Your doctor may also recommend
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as
ibuprofen or aspirin. These medicines may help with your symptoms.
Sometimes doctors prescribe certain antidepressants or muscle relaxants
that help relax muscles and relieve sleep problems related to myofascial
The American Academy of Physical Medicine and
Rehabilitation (AAPMR) is the medical society for the specialty of physical
medicine and rehabilitation. The Web site includes a directory of member
PM&R physicians (physiatrists) that can be searched by last name, location,
or telephone number.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
(NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explores complementary and
alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, trains
complementary and alternative medicine researchers, and gives out authoritative
Other Works Consulted
Bennet RM (2008). Myofascial pain section of Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue
syndrome. In L Goldman, D Ausiello, eds., Cecil Medicine, 23rd ed., vol. 2, pp. 2082–2083. Philadelphia: Saunders
Childers MK, et al. (2008). Myofascial pain syndrome. In WR Frontera et al., eds., Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2nd ed., pp. 529–537. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
Kay TM, et al. (2005). Exercises for mechanical neck
disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3).
Oxford: Update Software.
Lavelle ED, et al. (2007). Myofascial trigger points.
Medical Clinics of North America, 91(2):
June 11, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
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