Myofascial Pain Syndrome vs Fibromyalgia

Myofascial Pain Syndrome vs Fibromyalgia – Differences:

Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS)

It is a chronic pain condition that affects the musculoskeletal system. MPS is characterized by chronic pain in multiple fascial constrictions and myofascial trigger points.

The pain associated with the syndrome typically occurs in the head, shoulders, neck, legs, arms, and lower back. MPS might involve either a single muscle or a muscle group.


According to statistics, over 45 million people in the United States have symptoms associated with MPS. Females are more susceptible to experiencing MPS than males.


Signs and symptoms of MPS may include:

  • difficulty sleeping due to pain;
  • a tender knot in a muscle;
  • pain which worsens or persists;
  • deep, aching pain in a muscle.


The most common complication of this syndrome is a limited range of motion in the affected area. In addition, some studies concluded that MPS may develop into fibromyalgia in some suferrers.


It might develop from a muscle injury as well as from excessive strain on a particular muscle, tendon, or ligament. Other possible causes include:

  • lack of activity (like – a broken arm in a sling);
  • injury to intervertebral disks;
  • medical conditions (including stomach irritation and heart attack);
  • repetitive motions;
  • general fatigue.

MPS can be aggravated by multiple causes, such as:

  • metabolic issues (including hypothyroidism and vitamin deficiencies);
  • poor sleeping habits;
  • postural abnormalities (in the home, workplace, or during recreational activities);
  • muscle deconditioning;
  • repetitive microtrauma;
  • acute tissue trauma.


MPS is diagnosed based on the areas of complaints of muscle pain. Also, your healthcare provider will ask how long you have had the pain, if you have had a recent injury, if you have any other symptoms, and what makes it worse or better.


Talk to your healthcare professional about the best methods to treat your pain. Some of the treatment options include:

  • ultrasound;
  • transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation;
  • trigger point shots – during this treatment, a health care provider injects a local anesthetic into the trigger point;
  • physiotherapy – you may learn how to improve your posture, adjust your workstation, or change your sleep position;
  • massage therapy – it uses trigger-point release methods that may be effective in short-term pain relief;
  • hypnosis – it may help you to relax;
  • cooling spray – it involves using a cooling spray directly on the skin from the trigger point to the painful area (a commonly used spray is Biofreeze);
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy – it can teach you how to change your thoughts about the pain you are experiencing.

Note – symptoms persisting for longer than 180 days may take around 7 years of treatment.


Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.


It affects 3 to 5% of the general population. Also, it is 7 times more likely to strike females than males.


Common symptoms include:

  • headaches, including migraines;
  • digestive problems, like – constipation, abdominal pain, and even IBS;
  • pain in the jaw or face, including temporomandibular joint syndrome;
  • numbness or tingling in feet and hands;
  • problems with memory, thinking, and concentration;
  • sleep problems;
  • anxiety;
  • depression;
  • tiredness;
  • fatigue;
  • stiffness and pain all over the body.

When to Call the Doctor

See a doctor if you are experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms:

  • you are unable to think clearly or concentrate;
  • you have unrefreshing sleep;
  • you are chronically fatigued;
  • the pain is causing you anxiety, emotional stress, or depression;
  • you have severe pain which is interfering with your daily life.


Sufferers with fibromyalgia commonly develop complications, including:

  • irritable bowel syndrome, a gastrointestinal condition that causes bloating, abdominal pain, as well as changes in bowel habits;
  • restless leg syndrome, in which you feel tingling, pain, and other sensations in the lower limbs.


According to studies, the involvement of the nervous system, especially the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain) is associated with fibromyalgia.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase the likelihood that someone will develop the condition include:

  • other illnesses – according to studies, about 20% of individuals with some forms of arthritis or lupus also develop fibromyalgia;
  • family history – one 2015 study found that approximately 33 percent of children whose mothers have the disorder also develop fibromyalgia;
  • age – when the disorder occurs in children, it tends to start between 11 and 15 years old, but, the disorder typically occurs in early adulthood or middle age;
  • gender – the disorder is substantially more prevalent in women.


Healthcare professionals suspect the disorder in individuals who have the following:

  • fatigue as the main symptom;
  • despite widespread symptoms, the laboratory test results are negative;
  • generalized tenderness and pain.


There’s no cure for the disorder, however, treatment can help manage symptoms and improve a patient’s quality of life and overall health. Some of the treatments include:


A counselor can help in teaching you coping strategies for dealing with the mental and emotional effects of your condition.

Physical Therapy

Water-based exercises may help to reduce the chances of additional strains on the body that aggravate pain. Additionally, other exercises may improve your body’s overall stamina, flexibility, and strength levels.

Occupational Therapy

This treatment can be useful for making adjustments to how you perform certain tasks.

Stress-Relief Methods

This can include tai chi, yoga, breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, and acupuncture.

READ MORE: Myasthenic Crisis vs Cholinergic Crisis

Anti-Seizure Medications

These medications may be prescribed for this disorder since they help to alleviate its debilitating effects. The approved anti-seizure medicine is pregabalin (Lyrica).


Fatigue and pain can be treated with anti-depressants medications. They also help to promote better sleep. Approved antidepressants are – milnacipran (Savella) and duloxetine (Cymbalta).

Pain-Relievers Medications

These may be prescribed or OTC medications. OTC medicines that can help with fibromyalgia include:

  • naproxen;
  • ibuprofen;
  • aspirin;
  • acetaminophen.

Proper Sleep

To improve the quality of your sleep, limit napping during the daytime, and go to bed and get up at the same time each day (including during the weekend).

In addition, avoid sugary beverages and caffeine (found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some teas) right before bedtime.

READ MORE: Skin Tag vs Hemorrhoid


Avoid unhealthy foods, including anything fried, saturated fats, and alcoholic drinks. The diet should include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains, including:

  • red kidney beans;
  • broccoli;
  • garlic;
  • carrots;
  • navy beans;
  • radishes;
  • apples;
  • mangoes;
  • pineapples;
  • papayas;
  • pears;
  • plums;
  • onions;
  • tomatoes;
  • sweet peppers;
  • Cayenne peppers;
  • watermelons;
  • zucchini;
  • Swiss chard;
  • cauliflower;
  • sweet potatoes;
  • potatoes;
  • cabbage;
  • kale;
  • spinach;
  • quinoa;
  • oat bran;
  • oatmeal;
  • turmeric;
  • ginger.

READ MORE: Plantar Warts vs Corns

Bottom Line – Myofascial Pain Syndrome vs Fibromyalgia

Myofascial pain syndrome is a painful condition that affects the connective tissue which covers the muscles. Common symptoms of the syndrome include:

  • sleep disturbances;
  • deep pain in localized areas of muscles;
  • mood changes;
  • muscles that are weak, inflexible, stiff, or have a reduced range of motion;
  • presence of painful knots in muscles that produce intense localized pain;
  • muscle pain which gets worse with time;
  • pain which gets worse when the affected muscle is strained or stretched.

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain all over the body, fatigue (extreme tiredness), sleep problems, and mental and emotional distress. Other symptoms include:

  • irritable bowel syndrome;
  • headaches;
  • problems with memory and concentration;
  • muscle stiffness;
  • increased sensitivity to pain.

In conclusion, these conditions seem to be very similar. For instance, both:

  • are accompanied by other painful conditions, like – arthritis, headaches, chronic fatigue, and degenerative disc disease;
  • produce an increased response to painful stimuli;
  • have widespread muscle tightness and pain.

However, fibromyalgia causes asymmetric and diffuse muscle pain which involves both sides of the body, whereas MPS typically involves muscle in body areas that are focal or asymmetric.

Unfortunately, both are frequently not diagnosed correctly. Additionally, both conditions benefit from maintaining a regular physical therapy program.

READ THIS NEXT: Lagavulin vs Laphroaig