Health Library
Myofascial Pain

What is Myofascial Pain?

Myofascial pain refers to pain in the muscles of the body.

What Causes Myofascial Pain?

Myofascial pain may develop from:

  • An injury to a muscle
  • A repeating strain of a muscle
  • Too much tightening of a muscle
  • Lack of activity (exercise)
  • Unknown reasons

How Is Myofascial Pain Diagnosed?

Myofascial pain is diagnosed by a physical exam. An exam will often find tight muscles and, at times, a tender point or trigger point.  Trigger points are tight bundles of muscle that are very painful when pressure is applied to the area.

What Are the Symptoms of Myofascial Pain?

Myofascial pain is described in many different ways. Sometimes patients report a deep, aching pain in a muscle, a tender spot (knot) in a muscle or general muscle achiness.

  • Pain can be worse with activity or exercise.
  • Patients may have poor sleep.
  • Depression and anxiety will make the pain worse.

How Is Myofascial Pain Treated?

Physical therapy is considered the primary treatment of myofascial pain. Active participation in physical therapy and a good home stretching exercise program, when done daily, are the most effective treatments for myofascial pain.

Other treatments may include:

  • Yoga and meditation – helping to manage symptoms
  • Massage − providing short-term relief of pain
  • Establishing a consistent sleep routine
  • Referral to a pain psychologist. Living with pain is stressful. A pain psychologist can teach methods to help cope with the pain response and skills that help reduce pain such as using biofeedback.

Sometimes medications are used for this type of pain. They may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications – ibuprofen, naproxen, meloxicam, acetaminophen, etodolac and indomethacin are examples of this type of medication.
  • Muscle relaxants – methocarbamol, tizanidine and cyclobenzaprine are examples of this type of medication.

Opioid pain medications do not help this type of pain.

Last Updated 11/2022

Contact us.

Find contact and referral information for the Pain Management Center.