myofascial pain syndrome


The term myofascial pain syndrome is derived from “myo” which means muscle and “fascial” which means connective tissue. This is a chronic pain condition that often originates in the muscles but may spread to the connective tissue or other areas of the body. Although almost everyone experiences some type of muscle pain at some point in their lives, sufferers of myofascial syndrome develop “trigger points” in muscles that feel similar to cramps. These strongly contracted muscles can produce enormous strain on tendons and lead to other kinds of chronic pain like headaches or back pain.


The mechanism of myofascial syndrome is not completely understood, but many authorities believe that it is related to a change in brain function that inhibits correct processing of pain sensations.  There are several risk factors that may make you more susceptible to this condition including prior injury, poor sleep, higher stress levels or depression.


It may be somewhat difficult for a general practitioner to distinguish between myofascial pain syndrome and other chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia. Myofascial syndrome does not present with unique symptoms, which is why it is often mistaken for more common ailments. The primary distinguishing factor is pain and tenderness localized to muscle groups.

Multi-faceted Pain Relief

Pain relief for myofascial pain syndrome is usually multi-faceted, involving medications as well as cognitive retraining and physical therapy.

  • Medications:  A drug regimen for myofascial pain syndrome may include trazodone or amitriptyline for pain relief and more restful sleep; cyclobenzaprine or orphenadrine for relaxed muscles; and Prozac, Zoloft or Cymbalta to treat depression and elevated stress levels. However, many myofascial pain syndrome patients are able to successfully treat symptoms without medications.
  • Home Remedies:  There are some treatments that you can use at home to remedy some symptoms.  You may try heat to loosen muscles and relieve pain, while bed rest for short periods of time have also proven effective for many patients. Long periods of rest, however, are not recommended as physical activity helps relax muscles and provides natural pain relief.
  • Stretching and Strengthening Exercises:  A vigorous exercise program is one of the most potent ways to treat myofascial pain syndrome. If you participate in physical therapy, your therapist will work with you to identify the source of your pain and the most appropriate exercise program.  Stretching exercises like yoga may help loosen problem areas and restore range of motion. While strengthening the affected muscles is not recommended,  strengthening opposite muscle groups that counteract them may prove beneficial.
  • Massage:  Another treatment option is massage which you might receive from your physical therapist or you may be able to perform on yourself. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, you may be able to find significant pain relief merely by rubbing the aching muscles with your hands or a soft, firm item like a tennis ball.
  • Trigger Point Injection:  If your symptoms are persistent, your physician may recommend a trigger point injection.  During this minimally invasive procedure, your doctor will inject anesthetic or corticosteroid into the problematic muscle in order to inactivate the trigger point.

If you or someone you know thinks they might be suffering from Myofascial Pain Syndrome, contact the pain relief experts at Colorado Pain Care for diagnosis and treatment options.

Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care

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