What’s the difference between fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome?

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Many people want to know the difference between fibromyalgia (FMS) and myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), as the symptoms are very similar and the diseases are often confused with one another.

In order to treat each disease, it is important that the issues and causes are identified correctly. Reasons include:

1. Each disease requires different treatment.

2. Trigger points can be eliminated.

3. Treating MPS can help reduce MPS pain.

MPS is often found in patients with fibromyalgia, but not all people who have MPS will have it as a result of fibromyalgia.

Chronic Myofascial Pain (CMP) is sometimes used instead of myofascial pain syndrome.

MPS is a pain syndrome that focuses on trigger points. Trigger points are tight bands of muscle and cause pain in other areas of the body.

Trigger points react with a twitching response when pressed, referred to as a “jump sign.”

In general, myofascial pain is often found in the neck, arms, shoulders, face, legs, and low back. MPS pain is generally located in one spot, limited to a specific area of the body.

MPS is known to occur with other medical issues including disease in the spinal discs, as well as inflammation.

MPS conditions can worsen from stress, fatigue, depression and other causes. MPS occurs in both males and females with similar frequency.

The cause of MPS has been identified as misaligned posture and other similar causes. This could result from sitting at a desk all day at work in a certain position or sleeping in a certain position continuously.

It is also thought that trauma to muscle tissues, including torn ligaments or sprains.

There is currently no cure for MPS, but symptoms can be relieved by physical therapy, massage therapy, stretching, anti-inflammatory medications, and other similar exercises.

Those with MPS should practice stretching at home and should be regimented in their practices.

They should be aware of their posture at home and at work and should make adjustments to align their body in an ergonomically correct way. This should improve symptoms over time.

Fibromyalgia is pain felt in all areas of the body, referred to as widespread chronic pain. This disease is classified as active when a total of 11 out of 18 predetermined trigger spots are noted as tender.

The patients who have more tender spots generally have a more serious case of the disease, with increased pain and decrease in activity due to pain.

Some of the symptoms fibromyalgia patients experience are fatigue, sleep issues, unlevel moods, and headaches. Fibromyalgia occurs more in females than males, at a rate between 4:1 and 9:1.

Fibromyalgia also causes a condition knows as a fog of fibromyalgia. In addition to the loss of sleep, the neuroendocrine imbalance may cause disturbances in regular and restorative sleep.

Fog of fibromyalgia has an unknown cause but is thought to be caused by this fatigue and depression in addition to imbalances and effects of medications.

difference between fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome

The main differences between fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome are:

1. MPS has more localized trigger points while fibromyalgia is more widespread.

2. MPS patients have trigger points, while fibromyalgia sufferers have tender points.

3. MPS pain is more easily treated as the pain is localized and causes can more often be identified and eliminated or adjusted.

Symptoms of FMS that do not occur as a result of MPS include fatigue, allergies, panic attacks, and sensory overload.

When determining whether a patient has fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome, a doctor will first check for trigger points versus tender points on the body.

If the pain is localized, the patient is likely suffering from MPS and can be treated with stretching, massage, and other exercised. However, if the pain is more widespread, the cause is likely fibromyalgia.

If fibromyalgia is thought to be the cause, tender points will be identified.  Unfortunately, there is not a specified treatment for this disease.

It is more of a trial and error treatment to see what type of lifestyle contributes to the best quality of life.

Differentiating between these two diseases is extremely important, as the symptoms are similar but the treatments are different.

Patients with fibromyalgia are more often treated with medications and more serious and longstanding treatments.

The symptoms of fibromyalgia will need to be treated long term-as the symptoms may increase or decrease in pain, but will likely never fully recover to normal.

Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome do have similar symptoms, but if adequate time is taken, each can be diagnosed correctly for the best treatment.

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