What is myofascial pain syndrome?

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) refers to pain and presumed inflammation in the body's soft tissues or muscles. Myofascial pain is a chronic, painful condition that affects the fascia (connective tissue that covers the muscles). Myofascial pain syndrome might involve either a single muscle or a muscle group. In some cases, the area where a person experiences the pain might not be where the myofascial pain generator is located. Experts believe that the actual site of the injury or the strain prompts the development of a trigger point that, in turn, causes pain in other areas. This situation is known as referred pain.

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What causes myofascial pain?

Myofascial pain might develop from a muscle injury or from excessive strain on a particular muscle or muscle group, ligament, or tendon. Other causes include:

  • Injury to intervertebral disks
  • General fatigue
  • Repetitive motions
  • Medical conditions (including heart attack, stomach irritation)
  • Lack of activity (such as a broken arm in a sling)

What are the symptoms of myofascial pain?

Myofascial pain symptoms usually involve muscle pain with specific "trigger" or "tender" points. The pain can be made worse with activity or stress. In addition to the local or regional pain associated with myofascial pain syndrome, people with the disorder also can suffer from depression, fatigue, and behavioral disturbances.

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