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If you’re struggling with fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome, you might wonder at first what the difference is. Both conditions cause chronic pain, and both can cause a range of other health problems. This article will compare the two conditions and in addition, explain how they differ. We’ll also advise you on finding the best treatment for your situation.

What Is Fibromyalgia And Myofascial Pain Syndrome?


Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) in detail is a long-term, debilitating disorder that causes widespread tenderness and pain. In fact, you’ll feel tired, have headaches, and have trouble sleeping. No trigger points are involved, but it causes generalized pain and soreness.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome in short is a chronic illness that causes muscle and skeletal pain. For instance, localized discomfort occurs in a specific area. Hence, it’s usually muscle trigger points that cause discomfort. Even though this disorder differs significantly from FMS, people still think it’s just a subtype.

What Is The Difference Between Fibromyalgia And Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

These two diseases in particular are chronic pain disorders. Therefore, it means they result in pain that persists over time and can be hard to treat. In fact, pain location is perhaps the most common feature between MPS and FM.

FeatureMyofascial Pain SyndromeFibromyalgia
Trigger/Tender PointsFew, localized trigger pointMultiple, generalized tender points
Musculoskeletal PainLocalizedGeneralized
Pain in a different spot other than its sourceMore frequentLess frequent
FatigueLess frequentMore frequent
Poor sleepLess frequentMore frequent
Burning, prickling, or tingling sensationLess frequentMore frequent
HeadacheLess frequentMore frequent
Irritable bowelLess frequentMore frequent
Sensation of swellingLess frequentMore frequent
Adapted from Hans SC, Harrison P: MPS and TP management, Reg Anesth 1999; 22(1):89–101

Myofascial Pain Syndrome vs Fibromyalgia Symptoms

SymptomsMyofascial Pain SyndromeFibromyalgia
Muscle pain – ranging from mild to severe
Unpleasant sleep
Balance problems
Ringing in the ears
Ear pain
Memory trouble
Random sweating
Worsening symptoms under stress, physical activity, or bad weather
Exhaustion or fatigue
Peripheral numbness
Joints clicking
Panic attacks
Blurred vision
Sensitivity to noise
Light and noise sensitivity

How Do I Know If I Have Fibromyalgia Or Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

All things considered, there is currently no gold standard diagnostic test for myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia. But, it is possible to identify both through clinical testing.

A thorough physical exam and presentation of classic symptoms are usually important for further diagnosing myofascial pain syndrome. When doctors examine a sore muscle, they gently press it and feel tight spots. Applying pressure to a tender area might cause certain responses, specifically muscle twitches. Additionally, myofascial pain syndrome may require additional tests to rule out other possible causes of muscle pain.

Meanwhile, there are two steps to diagnosing fibromyalgia. Firstly, it is first necessary to rule out other conditions that share similar symptoms to fibromyalgia. Secondly, fibromyalgia diagnosis involves gathering information about the your symptoms. Likewise, you need to use standardized survey criteria like the Widespread Pain Index Symptom Severity Scale and a tender point count. Additionally, to diagnose fibromyalgia, pain must be severe. There must have been no other medical illness related to it, and it also has to last for at least three months.

Tender Points vs. Trigger Points

It’s important to know the difference between tender and trigger points.

FeaturesTender PointsTrigger Points
DefinitionTender points can also help diagnose fibromyalgia. All in all, these are hypersensitive areas of the body where even a light touch can basically cause excruciating pain.The term “trigger point” refers to a specific area of muscle or connective tissue that, when pressed, can cause pain to radiate to another location.
LocationThere are 18 specific tender points located equally at nine bilateral locations.
Here are nine spots that are tender to the touch on both the right and left sides of the body:

Low cervical
Lateral epicondyle
Greater trochanter
Myofascial pain and trigger points can surprisingly develop in any muscle in the body. However, the most commonly affected muscles are those in the upper back, shoulder and neck. Summing up, these muscles include the:

Levator scapulae
Teres minor
Specific PointThe specific point is tender.The point itself may or may not be tender.
Referred PainTender points do not cause referred pain.Trigger points refer pain to other areas.
Multiple PointsThere are always multiple points.There may be a single point or multiple points.
Symmetrical LocationPoints occur in specific symmetrical locations.Points may occur in any skeletal muscle.
DiagnosisFM requires pain in at least 11 tender points.Myofascial TPs basically have no gold standard diagnostic criterion.
Tender Points vs Trigger Points

Can You Have Both Myofascial Pain And Fibromyalgia?

Yes, certainly. You can have both fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome. In order to diagnose the difference between the two and provide the proper treatment, it’s critical to ask a medical expert.

A Note From Gulf Physio

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the subject matter above. This blog post is not a substitute for medical advice. The author cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information presented. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult a healthcare professional. All decisions and actions you make are your own. No one involved in making this resource is liable for its use.

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