What is chronic myofascial pain (CMP)?

Chronic myofascial pain (CMP), also called myofascial pain syndrome, is a painful condition that affects the muscles and the sheath of the tissue — called the fascia — that surround the muscles. CMP can involve a single muscle or a group of muscles.

Is chronic myofascial pain (CMP) the same thing as fibromyalgia syndrome?

No, but CMP may resemble fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) Since both disorders are defined as having “tender points in muscles.” However, CMP is believed to be a disorder of the muscle itself while FMS is believed to be a disorder in the way the brain processes pain signals. FMS is usually associated with more widespread pain and other symptoms that do not affect muscles including sleep disruption, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue throughout the body and headache.

How common is chronic myofascial pain (CMP)?

Pain originating in the muscles and fascia is very common. Nearly everyone at some point suffers from this type of pain, known as myalgia fasciitis or myofascitis. CMP, however, involves pain that is chronic, or long lasting, and is associated with specific trigger points.
CMP most often occurs in people between the ages of 30 and 60 years. It affects men and women equally.

What are the symptoms of chronic myofascial pain (CMP)?

The most notable feature of CMP is the presence of trigger points. These trigger points or “tender points” are highly sensitive areas within the muscle that are painful to touch and cause pain that can be felt in another area of the body, called referred pain.

Trigger points might be “active” or “latent.” An active trigger point is always sore and can prevent the full use of the muscle, subsequently leading to weakness and decreased range of motion. A latent trigger point does not cause pain during normal activities, but is tender when touched and can be activated when the muscle is strained, fatigued or injured.

Other symptoms associated with CMP include a sensation of muscle weakness, tingling and stiffness. The pain associated with CMP might also lead to problems sleeping.

What causes chronic myofascial pain (CMP)?

No one is sure what causes CMP. Possible causes include:

  • Mechanical factors, such as one leg longer than the other
  • Poor posture, stress and overuse of muscles
  • Exercise (overexercise, poor techniques that may lead to stress on muscles)
  • Performing work activities using poor techniques that can lead to repetitive stress injuries
  • Anxiety and depression which can cause increased muscle tension, leading to significant myofascial pain

Trigger points might be activated by overwork, fatigue, direct trauma and cold.