Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia: What Is the Difference?

Myofascial Pain Syndrome is sometimes confused with fibromyalgia or the two terms are used interchangeably. This is incorrect as the they are considered two distinct conditions. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms or has recently been diagnosed with one of these disorders, understanding the difference between Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) and fibromyalgia is critical for effective treatment and management.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes musculoskeletal pain, chronic fatigue, memory, sleep and mood issues. Some experts believe it is caused by hormonal disturbances and chemical imbalances; others suspect that the deep muscle pain characteristic of fibromyalgia is linked to stress, illness or trauma. Fibromyalgia affects more women than men.

With Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS), pressure on sensitive points in your muscles causes pain in seemingly unrelated parts of the body. MPS is often caused by muscle overuse or injury. It can occur alongside conditions such as spinal disc disease and inflammatory illnesses.


The following are key differences between Myofascial Pain Syndrome and fibromyalgia:

1. MPS patients experience localized or regional pain that is confined to one area of the body, while fibromyalgia involves a diffuse pain that affects several areas.

2. Fibromyalgia patients have “tender points,” while MPS patients have “trigger points.” Tender points are areas of tenderness around joints, but not the joints themselves. They hurt when pressed with a finger. A trigger point is a sore point that, in addition to hurting when pressure is applied, triggers a referred pain in a different area of the body.

3. With many MPS cases, the pain resolves with treatment of the offending stimulus, while the pain of fibromyalgia has a higher chance of being chronic.

MPS is often present in the fibromyalgia patient, but not all MPS patients also suffer from fibromyalgia. With both MPS and fibromyalgia, fatigue, stress and depression can exacerbate symptoms.

Both conditions can be treated and managed successfully. Request a phone consultation with an expert therapist to learn how the Wurn Technique can decrease pain and dysfunction caused by Myofascial Pain Syndrome and fibromyalgia — without drugs or surgery.

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