Myofascial Pain Syndrome

...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!

Myofascial Pain Syndrome is a chronic form of muscle pain. The pain from this syndrome centers around sensitive points in your muscles called trigger points. The trigger points in your muscles can be painful when touched. And the pain can spread throughout the affected muscle.

Nearly everyone experiences muscle pain from time to time that generally resolves in a few days. But people with myofascial pain syndrome have muscle pain that persists or worsens. Myofascial pain caused by trigger points has been linked to many types of pain, including headaches, jaw pain, neck pain, low back pain, pelvic pain, and arm and leg pain.

Oral anti-inflammatory medications—such as aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen, remain the most common treatment for impingement syndrome.

You must consistently take the medication for nearly eight weeks for it to be effective. You should do this under the care of a doctor because these medications can cause stomach irritation and bleeding.

Taking anti-inflammatory medications for a short period of time may treat the symptom of pain, but it will not treat the underlying problem and symptoms will come back. There is no specific medication for this condition and response to any given medication differs from person to person. If one anti-inflammatory medication does not help within 10 to 14 days, then another one will be given until one that provides relief is found.

In addition to taking medications, daily stretching in a warm shower will help. Work to reach your thumb up and behind your back. Avoid repetitive activities with your injured arm, particularly where the elbow would move above shoulder level. Avoid vacuuming, painting, raking leaves and washing the car. Your physician may refer you to a physical therapist who can demonstrate the exercises most effective in strengthening and stretching the shoulder muscles.


  • Deep, aching pain in a muscle
  • Pain that persists or worsens
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Joint stiffness near the affected muscle
  • Area of tension in your muscle that may feel like a knot or tight spot and may be particularly sensitive to touch
  • Difficulty sleeping due to pain

  • Causes:
    Sensitive areas of tight muscle fibers can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse. These sensitive areas are called trigger points. A trigger point in a muscle can cause strain and pain throughout the muscle. When this pain persists and worsens, doctors call it myofascial pain syndrome.

    Treatment for this syndrome typically includes physical therapy, trigger point injections or medications. No conclusive evidence supports using one therapy over another. Discuss your options and treatment preferences with your doctor. You may need to try more than one approach to find pain relief.

    . . . Physical Therapy
    A physical therapist can devise a plan to help relieve your pain based on your signs and symptoms. Physical therapy may involve:

  • Stretching. A physical therapist may lead you through gentle stretching exercises to help ease the pain in your affected muscle. If you feel trigger point pain when stretching, the physical therapist may spray a numbing solution on your skin.
  • Massage. A physical therapist may massage your affected muscle to help relieve your pain. The physical therapist may use long hand strokes along your muscle or place pressure on specific areas of your muscle to release tension.
  • Finding causes of pain. A physical therapist can help you identify and correct factors that may contribute to your pain. For instance, if poor posture is causing muscle stress in your lower back, the physical therapist may guide you through exercises to correct your posture.

  • . . . Trigger Point Injections
    During a trigger point injection, your doctor inserts a needle into a trigger point in your muscle. The needle may be inserted into several places in and around your trigger point. Trigger point injections, sometimes called needling, may relieve the tension in your muscle that causes the trigger point.

    Your doctor may inject a small amount of a numbing medication, such as an anesthetic, each time the needle is inserted. Corticosteroid medications also may be used to relieve pain and inflammation around the trigger point.

    . . . Medications
    Medications may include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs may relieve muscle pain, though some people find they aren't helpful. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve). Other NSAIDs are available by prescription.
  • Depression medications. A class of medications for depression called tricyclic antidepressants may help relieve pain and help you sleep.

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    Myofascial Pain Syndrome

    ...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!