What Is Myofascial Pain Syndrome


June 28, 2021


Derrick Allen

Have you ever wondered, what is myofascial pain syndrome? Maybe you know someone that has it, or maybe you are experiencing muscle pain yourself. 

Myofascial pain syndrome is one of the most common causes of musculoskeletal pain that drives people to seek medical care. It is estimated that between 6 million to 9 million people in the United States suffer from this condition.

Many people seek relief through chiropractic care or massage therapy, such as the therapeutic massage services offered at Allen Therapeutic Massage

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic and painful disorder that affects muscle tissues, but there are some treatments that can help! You are not alone and there are things you can do to start feeling better today.

Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments so that you know what to expect. 

What is Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic, painful and debilitating disease of the muscles and soft tissues. Pain will radiate from one pressure point to the other. Myofascial pain syndrome is also not the same as fibromyalgia. 

Myofascial pain syndrome is chronic and affects the muscles and surrounding connective tissue. The term “myo” means muscle, and “fascial” means fascia. The fascia is the connective tissue that wraps around all your muscles.

Myofascial pain occurs when a muscle is contracted repeatedly such as performing certain types of jobs.

Where Does it Occur?

Myofascial pain can occur anywhere in the body, but most commonly occurs in:

  • The muscles in your neck
  • The muscles that are responsible for turning your head and shoulders.
  • The muscles around your shoulder blades.
  • The muscles around your upper back.

Symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome

The symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome can vary from person to person. Some people might experience a dull constant muscular pain on a daily basis, while others might experience flare-ups where the pain happens suddenly. Symptoms of Myofascial pain syndrome can include:

  • Muscles that feel tender and sore.
  • Soft tissue pain.
  • Widespread soft tissue pain.
  • A trigger point in the muscle like a ball or knot that causes pain when touched.
  • Feeling weakness in the painful muscles.
  • Reduced range of motion, like not being able to completely rotate your shoulders.

People also report poor sleep, headaches, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Chronic pain can cause a significant amount of stress and anxiety due to the pain and fatigue. It can be challenging to manage your work and responsibilities during these times.

Causes of Myofascial Pain Syndrome

The causes of myofascial pain syndrome are complicated, as many things can contribute to muscular pain. But areas of sensitivity can form in muscles from injury and overuse. 

The known causes include:

  • Muscle injuries.
  • Lack of muscle activity and weakness from an injury such as a broken leg.
  • Repetitive muscle strain and use.
  • Bad posture.
  • Sore joints.
  • Living in a cold environment.
  • Pinched nerves.
  • Emotional stress, especially chronic emotional stress.

Other things that can contribute include chronic infections, vitamin deficiencies, or hormonal problems. Other risk factors are thyroid disease and diabetes.

Diagnostic Tests

Myofascial pain syndrome can often be overlooked, or confused for other disorders such as a problem with your nerves or bones.

Unfortunately, there is no bloodwork, x-rays, scans, or biopsies that can give you a definite diagnosis. Also, there are no outward signs such as redness or swelling to see.

The best way your doctor can detect myofascial pain syndrome is to examine your muscles to check for trigger points and tender spots.

There are 4 main types of trigger points:

  • An active trigger point is found within a muscle and pain is felt locally when pressure is applied to it.
  • A latent trigger point is not active at the present moment but has the potential to be.
  • A secondary trigger point is located in a different muscle than the active trigger point but can become irritated along with the active trigger point area.
  • A satellite trigger point is inactive and overlaps other trigger point areas.

Your doctor will also review your symptoms with you, as well as the severity and length of time you have experienced symptoms.


Treating myofascial pain syndrome is more successful if it is started early on after the diagnosis, but before trigger points start to develop. There are many treatments available, and likely you will need to try a combination of a few different methods to figure out what works for you. Treatments include:

  • Physical therapy to stretch and relax your muscles.
  • Low-level laser therapy uses a laser to help the body produce chemicals that relieve pain.
  • Dry needling is where thin needles are pushed into trigger points to decrease muscle tightness and relieve pain.
  • Wet needling is the same thing as dry needling, but an anesthetic like lidocaine is used to help decrease pain.
  • Ultrasound therapy.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) sends electrical signals to your muscles via pads applied to your skin.
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Hot and cold compresses.

Your doctor may prescribe medications to help your pain. These can include over-the-counter medications like Advil or Tylenol, all the way up to prescription pain medications, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and sedatives for sleep.

Feel Less Pain Today

Now that you know the answer to the burning question of “What is myofascial pain syndrome?” you can start the fight against your pain today!

A deep tissue massage can do wonders to relieve your pain and muscle tension. The experienced professionals at Allen Therapeutic Massage have the experience to help you when you need it the most.

We will work with you to ensure you receive the best treatment to suit your individual needs.

You can book an appointment online here, or you can call or text us at 972.632.6615 to find out more.