Fibromyalgia Pain can be—Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Pain can be Myofascial Pain Syndrome along with Fibromyalgia

shoulderpainI learned about Myofascial Pain Syndrome from my many visits to chiropractors and massage therapists.  Frequently, the symptoms overlap and the pain can be mistaken just for fibromyalgia.  As a result, people with both disorders are sometimes only diagnosed with and treated for one.

Studies suggest that muscle trauma in some people leads to malformations where the nerve cells connect to muscle cells. This suggests Myofascial Pain Syndrome is a neuromuscular disease.  You may also see MPS referred to as Myofascial Pain Disorder.

Why people with MPS frequently develop FMS is not yet clear, but a growing body of evidence shows that chronic pain can make changes to the central nervous system, resulting in central sensitization,  which is an increase in the excitability of neurons, making them more sensitive to stimuli or sensory inputs.


Not everyone with MPS develops Fibromyalgia, and if theories are correct, early treatment of MPS may help prevent FMS.

 Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia share some common symptoms, such as hyperirritability, but the two conditions are distinct. However, patients, such as me, may suffer from MPS and Fibromyalgia at the same time.

In Fibromyalgia, chronic pain and hyperirritability are widespread, whereas MPS pain can affect many parts of the body, yet it is still limited to trigger points.

What are the differences between trigger points and tender points?

Though the terms are used interchangeably at times, trigger points are found with Myofascial Pain Syndrome.  I experienced them when I started going for massage therapy.  They are hard knots under the skin, and result in hot spots of referred pain, which is pain perceived at a location other than the site of the painful stimulus.

 Pain can be “good”—as the therapist would press on a trigger point to release the muscle, it would feel like someone pressing on a bruise, but to me, it was a “good” pain.  I would endure the treatment and leave hurting less than when I arrived.

With a chronic pain condition, therapy that is beneficial is not always affordable.  I would need to go at least bi-weekly for the improvements to continue, but alas, most insurance companies do not compensate for massage therapy, though it is so worth it.  I sometimes will go to a school of massage and a student will take care of me at less cost.

Fibromyalgia is often diagnosed by checking for certain tender points on the body.  These 18 points (9 pairs) tend to be painful when pressed, and may spread pain to other body parts.

Trigger Points vs. Tender Points

Trigger Points 

  • Local tenderness, taut band, local twitch response, jump sign
  • Singular or multiple
  • May occur in any skeletal muscle
  • May cause a specific referred pain pattern

Tender Points

  • Local tenderness
  • Multiple
  • Occur in specific locations that are symmetrically located
  • Do not cause referred pain, but often cause a total body increase in pain sensitivity

What to do:

Heat, massage, soaking in a hot bath of epsom salts (for the magnesium) and keeping the digestive system in balance are some of the tools you can use to stay ahead of the pain.

By keeping our digestive system healthy, it enables the immune system, which is mostly located in the digestive tract, to do what it is meant to do: defend and heal our bodies.

We keep the digestive system in balance by a simple program – including  whole foods in our diet, restoring the micro-flora in the gut, and supplementing with digestive enzymes to aid in the breakdown of the food we eat and for absorption of nutrients.

I also supplement with a product with all natural ingredients and try to stay away from NSAIDS.  From WebMD:

NSAIDs Risks:BleedDiverticuli

“The biggest risk with NSAIDs is severe and sometimes fatal gastrointestinal bleeding. NSAIDs can trigger an increase in stomach acid and, at the same time, reduce the stomach’s normal protective mucus layer. In some patients, these widely used drugs can also make high blood pressure worse. They can cause reversible damage to the kidneys in people over 60; those with high blood pressure, heart disease, or pre-existing kidney disease; and people taking water pills.”

***Image:   “Shoulder Pain” – courtesy of:  sixninepixels /




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