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2437 pages added, reviewed or updated during the last month (last updated: 22/4/2021)

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myofascial pain syndrome (MPS)

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Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is characterized by acute or chronic regional muscle pain associated with single or multiple restricted painful regions (trigger points) within muscle taut bands

  • also associated with stiffness and local twitch response when stimulated by digital pressure or during located needling generating local or referred pain

  • individuals who have regional pain present with a high prevalence of MPS
    • studies carried out in pain management centers and clinics of different specialities have shown prevalence ranging from 30% to 93% in patients complaining of regionalized pain
    • high prevalence of MPS in people in their mature years of maximum activity, and in women
    • the trapezius, levator scapula, infra-spinatus, and scalenes are the most frequently affected areas by MPS

  • a number of causal factors associated with MPS have been suggested such as:
    • acute physical overload,
    • deep pain impulse,
    • emotional tension,
    • postural habits,
    • fatigue,
    • hypovitaminosis,
    • infections,
    • physical inactivity,
    • poor physical conditioning,
    • repetitive musculoskeletal microtraumas and trauma

  • diagnosis of MPS is based on
    • exclusion of other causes of regional muscle pain
    • identification of trigger points in the taut band through palpation of sensible nodules, local twitch response and specific patterns of pain referral associated with each trigger point

  • treatment
    • MPS treatment consists of trigger points inactivation, and breaks the vicious cycle of pain-spasm-pain
    • also includes reassurance (patient education, self care and behaviour therapy), physiotherapy (ultrasound, megapulse, low-level laser therapy, heat exercises, biofeedback, spray and stretch technique), acupuncture, dry needling, injections of anaesthetic, drug therapy and combined treatments
    • medicine used to treat MPS includes analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), muscle relaxants and tricyclic antidepressants

For NICE guidance regarding management of chronic pain (pain that lasts for more than 3 months) then see linked item.


Last edited 04/2021 and last reviewed 04/2021