Symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome


Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is essentially defined as a painful musculoskeletal condition, characterized by the development of Myofascial trigger points (TrPs). These points are locally tender when active and refer pain through specific patterns to other areas of the body.

MPS – Key Aspects

The Myofascial Pain Syndrome generally develops in the skeletal muscles and the membranes which cover them. Patients have specific areas of deep tenderness in the muscles, known as trigger points.

These trigger points might occur as a result of trauma, a repetitive motion injury, prolonged improper posture or a disease such as arthritis. When pressed upon, a trigger point causes pain that is felt elsewhere in the body, known as referred pain.

Symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome

The key symptoms of the Myofascial Pain Syndrome can be discussed under various categories. Here we discuss the main aspects of each one of them.

A) Trigger Points

The most important symptom of the Myofascial Pain Syndrome is that there is a strong sensation of pain when pressure is applied on the trigger points.

A trigger point is a knot or a tight, ropy band of muscle that forms when muscles fails to relax as normal muscle should.

The trigger point can trap or irritate surrounding nerves and cause referred pain, which is felt in another part of the body. Scar tissue, loss of range of motion and weakness may also develop over time.

Often, trigger points cause autonomic nervous system changes such as flushing of the skin, hypersensitivity of areas of the skin, sweating in areas and goose bumps. Though the trigger points usually cause localized pain, at times they can also involve the whole body.

B) Direct Pain Symptoms

This category of symptoms of the Myofascial Pain Syndrome relate to the immediate pain felt by the patient in various parts of the body. The presence of such pain in one or more body parts indicates an occurrence of the Myofascial Pain Syndrome.

The main types of pain and relevant body parts are discussed below.

Chronic facial muscle pain or aching

Severe, constant and dull facial muscle pain is often the first pain-related symptom of Myofascial Pain Syndrome. The patient feels a constant pain in the affected area. Eventually, the pain might turn chronic after 2-3 months. Such chronic pain will not respond to normal medication. In addition, chronic pain caused by the Myofascial Pain Syndrome soon begins to affect the normal life of the patient.

This pain is often located in the jaw area, though it can spread to any of the body parts.


An individual affected by the Myofascial Pain Syndrome feels a strong sensation of pain or stiffness in various parts of the body. These include the neck, shoulders, low back and hips. However, in some cases, the pain and stiffness can even be felt in the whole body.

Besides the stiffness, popping and clicking of the joints might also be felt.


A headache is usually felt as an aching or throbbing pain in one or more areas of the head, neck, face or mouth. There can be many reasons which can trigger off a headache, including:

Stress, anxiety Fatigue Depression Arthritis in neck or spine Glaring or flickering lights Changes in weather Inherited abnormality in blood vessels Food-triggered (from nuts, yoghurts, lima beans etc.)

C) Sleep Problems

Myofascial Pain Syndrome often leads to development of sleep disorders. The patient experiences mild to severe disturbances in their normal sleeping patterns.

The most usual form of sleep disorders include:

Lack of sufficient sleep Having a non-restorative sleep Difficulty in lying down for longer hours Experiencing hot-flushes in sleep

4) Psychological Symptoms

In addition to the physical symptoms, Myofascial Pain Syndrome also exhibits certain signs of psychological impact. The main amongst these are:

Depression Loss of concentration Memory problems Behavioral disturbances Excessive mood swings

5) Other symptoms

There are a series of other symptoms associated with an episode of Myofascial Pain Syndrome. These include:

Fatigue Irritable Bowel Syndrome Numbness Fluid Retention Balance Problems Ear pain Blurred vision Reduced exercise tolerance