Understanding Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Here is a complete breakdown on how Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) and Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) are different and similar in characteristics.

MPS is usually pain that is referred to some localized targeted spot in the body whereas FMS is more widespread or general in nature.

With FMS, pain will be felt more widespread for example, the right or left of the body, upper or lower regions of the body in-addition to these pain area individuals with FMS will feel pain in the spine, the neck or front of the chest or low back.

Similar or identical:

  • Both are affected by cold weather.
  • Both may involve increased sympathetic nerve activity.
  • Both have tension headaches and paresthesia as a major symptom associated with MPS & FMS.
  • Both are unaffected by anti-inflammatory, painkilling medication and cortisone shots.

The difference between Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) and Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)

  • MPS affects both males and females equally, whereas FMS affects mainly females.
  • MPS is usually local or targeted to a specific area of the body or muscle, while FMS is widespread and general and it usually involves the 4 corners of the body at the same time.
  • Muscles that contain taut rope-like bands of tightness are found in about 30% of the muscles with individuals with MPS and much higher with individuals with FMS, which is about 60%.
  • Individuals with FMS have a poorer muscular endurance than individuals with MPS.
  • FMS suffers often have sleep disturbances whereas individuals who suffer MPS do not. Not in most cases anyways.

More differences:

  • Individuals who have MPS do not usually suffer from morning stiffness, whereas with FMS they do.
  • Fatigue is usually present with FMS not usually with MPS.
  • Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, dysmenorrhea and a feeling of “swollen joints” are present in FMS suffers but not necessarily with MPS.
  • Depression is an associated symptom of FMS but not MPS usually.
  • Exercise and cardiovascular activities can help individuals with FMS but this not a protocol of MPS.


Treatment of FMS and MPS:

The outlook for individuals who are suffering from MPS is excellent, since trigger point therapy is very effective in treating MPS. All you need a very good trigger point therapist who can accurately identify and deactivate these MPS. However the outlook for individuals who have FMS is less positive since treatment and recovery of FMS is more lengthy and more involved.

Changing your lifestyle is usually required (i.e. dieting reducing process foods and sugars, reducing your stress levels, acupuncture, chiropractic and massage therapy treatments) may help but staying active and exercising is the most important. Recent research studies have proven that individuals who suffer from FMS, have muscles that produce excessive lactic acid and this can add to their discomfort. Which all can make exercising very difficult so start with something slow and easy in the beginning. And if something hurts try something else don’t let FMS control your life.


Muscle Energy Techniques, Leon Chaitow 2006



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