By | November 23, 2017

By Adrienne Dellwo

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Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome often go together. Because of the frequent overlap and some similar symptoms, they’re often mistaken for the same condition and, as a result, people with both are sometimes only diagnosed with and treated for one.

That’s a real problem, for three major reasons:

  1. they require different treatment
  2. MPS’s trigger points can be eliminated
  3. MPS pain can exacerbate FMS, and lowering MPS pain can calm FMS symptoms considerably

-sticky billboard-sticky is-lockable” data-height=”1050″> Some researchers use the name “chronic myofascial pain” (CMP) instead of myofascial pain syndrome because of evidence it’s a disease, not a syndrome. (A “syndrome” is a set of symptoms without a known cause.)


In MPS, muscles and connective tissues (which make up the fascia) develop what’s called a trigger point (TrP). These are not the same as FMS tender points.

A trigger point is a small, hard knot that you can sometimes feel under your skin. The knot itself can be painful, especially when poked, but it often causes pain in another area, which is called referred pain.

Trigger points typically form as a result of trauma to the tissue. Experts don’t know why damage that heals normally in most people causes TrPs in others. However, studies suggest that muscle injury in some people leads to abnormalities where the nerve cells connect to muscle cells. This suggests MPS is a neuromuscular disease.


Why people with MPS frequently develop FMS isn’t yet clear, but a growing body of evidence shows that, in some people, chronic pain can make changes to the central nervous system, resulting in central sensitization. If theories are correct, early treatment of MPS may help prevent FMS.

An emerging umbrella term for FMS, MPS, and other conditions involving central sensitization is central sensitivity syndromes.


Some symptoms associated with MPS are similar to symptoms associated with FMS, while others are linked to only one of.

The symptoms they have in common include:

  • soft-tissue pain ranging from mild to severe
  • headaches and/or migraines
  • disturbed sleep
  • balance problems and/or dizziness
  • tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and ear pain
  • memory problems
  • unexplained sweating
  • worsening symptoms due to stress, changes/extremes in weather, and physical activity

Symptoms associated with MPS but not with FMS include:

  • numbness in the extremities
  • popping or clicking joints
  • limited range of motion in joints, especially the jaw
  • doubled or blurry vision
  • unexplained nausea

Symptoms associated with FMS but not with MPS include:

  • fatigue
  • panic attacks
  • feeling overwhelmed due to high levels of sensory input
  • allergies and sensitivites
  • periodic confusion and disorientation

For more fibromyalgia symptoms, see The Monster List of Fibromyalgia Symptoms.


Referred pain makes MPS especially hard to diagnose and treat. Typically, a doctor says, “Where does it hurt?” and then looks where you point. To treat MPS, you and your doctor need to examine your symptoms and figure out where your trigger points are.

Your doctor can find trigger points by feel or based on symptoms.
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