Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Chronic Myofascial Pain
Most people have muscle pain from time to time. But chronic 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.
Experts don't know exactly what causes chronic myofascial pain. It may start after:
The main symptom of chronic myofascial pain 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 chronic myofascial pain may have other health problems, such as tension headaches, depression, sleep problems, and fatigue. These problems are common in people who have chronic pain.
To diagnose chronic myofascial pain, 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 symptoms.
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.
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. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
Sometimes doctors prescribe certain antidepressants or muscle relaxants that help relax muscles and relieve sleep problems related to myofascial pain.
Other Works Consulted
Bennett RM (2016). Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and myofascial pain. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds., Goldman-Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1817–1823. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Childers MK, et al. (2015). Myofascial pain syndrome. In WR Frontera et al., eds., Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 3rd ed., pp. 520–526. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Kay TM, et al. (2005). Exercises for mechanical neck disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3).
Lavelle ED, et al. (2007). Myofascial trigger points. Medical Clinics of North America, 91(2): 229–239.
Current as of: March 28, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineNancy E. Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Current as of:
March 28, 2019
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Nancy E. Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.