Myofascial Pain Syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Catherine Burt Driver, MD
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

Surprising Reasons You're in Pain Slideshow

Myofascial pain syndrome facts

  • Muscle pain, tenderness, and spasm are characteristics of myofascial pain syndrome.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome typically affects muscle in asymmetric areas of the body.
  • The precise cause of myofascial pain syndrome is not known.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome leads to localized pain in the muscle tissue.
  • Poor sleep, fatigue, and stiffness are common in myofascial pain syndrome.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome is simply diagnosed based on the areas of complaints of muscle pain and associated tenderness upon examination.
  • Patients have the best prognosis when one physician oversees a multifaceted treatment approach and monitors the response to various therapies.

What is myofascial pain syndrome?

Myofascial pain syndrome is characterized by muscle pain, tenderness, and spasm. Myofascial pain syndrome usually involves muscle in body areas that are asymmetric or focal, whereas fibromyalgia is typically a diffuse and symmetric muscle pain syndrome that involves both sides of the body.

What are causes and risk factors for myofascial pain syndrome?

The cause of myofascial pain syndrome is unknown. Nevertheless, prior injury, poor sleep patterns, stressful life situations, and depression are common underlying conditions that may play a role in inciting and exacerbating myofascial pain syndrome. It is currently felt that risk factors such as these may lead to a change in the ability of the brain to properly process pain perception (referred to as central pain processing).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2015

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