Celeste Cooper RN Author - Educator and Pain Advocate

Celeste Cooper / Author, Health Pro, Advocate

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  • Referred pain
  • A taut muscle band that can be felt
  • A sensitive tender spot in the muscle band (you may or may not be able to feel the pea size trigger point depending on the amount of muscle stress and where the muscle is located)
  • Twitch response of the muscle by some mechanical method (i.e.: manual pressure or needle insertion)
  • Referred pain patterns, type and location of
  • Decreased mobility related to the affected muscle - restricted motion
  • Weakness in the affected muscle​​

A clear, concise history is an integral part of the diagnostic criteria. Let your doctor know how chronic myofascial pain interferes with your function. A history of pain resulting from a muscular insult that has outlasted the causative event is the most significant characteristic of myofascial pain syndrome. 

“The defining characteristic of myofascial pain syndrome is that MTrPs generate pain in a pattern that does not change between patients.”
~Spring Devotions ​

Muscles can develop trigger points because of accident, surgery, poor posture, repetitive motion, stress, or chronic tension; and can cause changes in balance, nausea, vision, hearing, heart palpitations, bowel and gonad related difficulties, urinary difficulties, and many other autonomic disruptions to the body. A TrP has both a sensory and motor component demonstrated by tenderness, a referred pain pattern, and a local twitch response. An active location is a site from which spontaneous electrical activity (SEA) can be recorded. This record is achieved much like heart electrical activity is recorded on an EKG. And now TrPs can be located for treatment with sonography (ultrasound).

What is Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a disorder that develops in muscles that are overstretched, overused, or injured. Everyone knows isolated events of trigger point (TrP) related pain such as sleeping on their neck wrong, but this is not the same as having chronic myofascial pain. These incidents are isolated injuries such as those experienced by sports enthusiasts. Any sports medicine doctor will tell you that prompt treatment for returning the muscle to its normal resting state is important to keep an acute problem from becoming myofascial pain syndrome (a chronic painful condition).

It is suspected that MPS is caused by a sustained disruption of chemical responses between nerve endings and muscle, which causes trigger points to develop.

  • Types of Trigger Points.
  • Chronic Myofascial Pain Etiology.
  • Chronic Myofascial Pain Diagnostic Criteria.
  • Chronic Myofascial Pain Symptoms.
  • Chronic Myofascial Pain Prognosis.
  • Therapies.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

  • Introduction
  • What is Chronic Myofascial Pain?
  • Chronic Myofascial Pain History.
  • What is the work of a skeletal muscle?
  • Myofascial Trigger Point.
  • Classification of trigger points, active or latent.

The primary job of a skeletal muscle is to provide locomotion by attaching to other muscle and to joints. When a muscle is shortened by the presence of a myofascial trigger point (MTrP) there is dysfunction interfering with normal contraction and relaxation of the muscle. 


Learn to identify perpetuating factors, how to communicate with your physician, document your symptoms, juggle two or more disorders, what to do and what to avoid, and read an in-depth review of therapies and treating therapists and physicians in Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-Body Connection. Other helpful information on myofascial pain syndrome can be found in the Broken Body, Wounded Spirit: Balancing the SeeSaw of Chronic Pain four book series. 


Myofascial Pain Diagnostic Criteria

Chronic Myofascial Pain Etiology

“Myofascial trigger points can usually be felt with your fingers unless the muscle is too rigid or the MTrP is behind bone or other muscle. The presence of MTrPs has no relevance regarding the size of the muscle.”  (Cooper and Miller, 2010)

What Is a Myofascial Trigger Point?

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Myofascial pain syndrome can co-exist with fibromyalgia (FM), but they are NOT THE SAME. Some people do not know how to distinguish the difference, so FM and MPS are often confused which delays proper treatment. 

Myofascial pain syndrome occurs with migraine, TMJ, dysfunctional pelvic disorder, and many other chronic pain conditions. 

Myofascial Pain Symptoms

Common Abbreviations
MTrP = myofascial trigger point
MTP = myofascial trigger point
TrPs = trigger points

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It is possible to bring trigger points under control with proper myofascial treatment, supervised exercise, medication, and avoidance of perpetuating factors. It is not a progressive disorder in that it does not continue to worsen once TrPs are treated. Left untreated, however, the chances of their total eradication are decreased.

Therapies and treatments for chronic myofascial pain from trigger points are aimed at restoring normal resting muscle fiber length; and maintaining adequate muscle strength, and endurance. Effective treatments include TrP injection and pressure therapy, active release therapy, myofascial release, and self-treatment with items such as a theracane, tennis ball, or electrical stimulation unit. 

The Prognosis

A myofascial trigger point (MTrP) is a self-sustaining irritable area in a taut band of muscle fiber that is felt as a nodule or bump.

                                                      All about Trigger Points... 
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