Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) are often indistinguishable from each other as their symptoms overlap. Also, patients with either one of these disorders has the tendency to develop the other one. In absence of proper diagnosis, patients suffering from both these disorders may be treated for only one of them.  However, it is important to distinguish the two disorders by proper diagnosis since the treatment modules for both are different.

MPS and Fibromyalgia: Is there a relation?

MPS is characterized with the development of trigger points which are small, hard knots in the muscle and connective tissues. Trauma to the tissue is responsible for formation of trigger points which may themselves be painful to touch and also cause pain in another area which is called ‘referred pain’. The exact cause of formation of these trigger points is not yet elucidated but it is believed that trauma to the tissue may lead to defects at the neuromuscular junction, resulting in trigger points. Fibromyalgia is a disorder which is characterized by intense musculoskeletal pain accompanied by other symptoms.

Studies reveal that patients with MPS become more susceptible to develop fibromyalgia. The opposite scenario is also possible but less common. Why this happens is still an enigma. One reason could be that chronic pain, one of the most important characteristics of both these disorders, could result in changes to the central nervous system, triggering disorders like fibromyalgia and MPS. Thus, the diseases have been assigned a common term of ‘central sensitivity syndromes’.

Symptoms of MPS and fibromyalgia Symptoms of MPS and fibromyalgia

Some symptoms of both MPS and fibromyalgia overlap while others are specific for each disorder.

The overlapping symptoms are

  • Headaches
  • Ringing noise in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Memory and concentration issues
  • Disturbed sleep


MPS specific symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Limited mobility of joints especially affecting the jaw
  • Vision is blurred
  • Popping and clicking joints

Fibromyalgia specific symptoms

  • Panic attacks
  • Mental disorientation
  • Increased susceptibility to allergens and increased sensitivity
  • Fatigue

 Diagnosing MPS and fibromyalgia

Seek the aid of experts at pain management centres like pain management, San Diego clinics for diagnosis and treatment of  MPS and fibromyalgia. MPS can be diagnosed by tissue biopsy  or magnetic resonance elastography. However, no test or scan is able to detect the location of pain in cases of fibromyalgia.

Treatment of MPS

Several options are available:

  • Trigger-Point Injections: Needles are injected at the trigger point to loosen up the knots. Pain relieving steroids may also be injected at the trigger points.
  • Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese technology is often used to deliver a healing therapy to patients of MPS with reports of positive results.
  • Physical Therapy: Spray and stretch therapy is commonly used to treat MPS where a physiotherapist guides the patient to perform stretching exercises while spraying a numbing substance on the mus
  • Medications: NSAID’s, muscle relaxants and other pain relievers may be administered to patients of MPS.

MPS Treatments vs. fibromyalgia Treatments

Even though most of the treatment modules of MPS mentioned above can be repeated for cases of fibromyalgia, trigger point injections are an exception. Also, medications in the form of NSAID’s are not effective in the case of fibromyalgia as these drugs treat inflammatory conditions which are absent in fibromyalgia.

If you think you suffer from one or both of these disorders, seek the help of pain management clinics like pain management in San Diego for confirmation of diagnosis and treatment.