For years I thought I had fibromyalgia. Now I find out I really have something called myofascial pain syndrome. What's the difference?

Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a noninflammatory condition with generalized musculoskeletal pain. Experts say this condition is systemic meaning many systems in the body are affected or involved. There is tenderness to touch in a large number of specific areas of the body. Most patients also report many other symptoms as well.

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is pain in individual muscles. There may be a few or many areas with trigger points (TrPs) that are painful. TrPs are hyperirritable points of pain in the muscle or fascia over the muscle. TrPs can refer pain to other areas when pressure is applied.

The main finding in myofascial pain syndrome is the TrP, as opposed to tender points in FMS. Both disorders cause muscle pain and aching. Painful symptoms in both conditions are increased with activity. With fibromyalgia there is more generalized aching. Myofascial pain is more direct and localized.

The person with myofascial pain syndrome does not have other symptoms like the individual with FMS. But it is possible to have both FMS and MPS. Treatment is different for each problem.

Elizabeth A. Tough, MSc, et al. Variability of Criteria used to Diagnose Myofascial Trigger Point Syndrome - Evidence from a Review of the Literature. In The Clinical Journal of Pain. March/April 2007. Vol. 23. No. 3. Pp. 278-286.

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