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Many patients are labeled with fibromyalgia simply because they have chronic soft tissue pain. But it is important, at least for the sake of correctness, that not all chronic soft tissue pain be called fibromyalgia.

In fact, localized or regional pain is often due to myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), a rather common condition which affects certain muscle areas. MPS is often present in the fibromyalgia patient, but not all MPS patients also suffer from fibromyalgia.

MPS generally involves pain in the neck, shoulders, hips, back, jaw and head. This pain is often accompanied by stiffness or tightness. It is important that the doctor listen to the patient to learn where the pain is most intense. And because MPS is not diagnosed with a lab test or x-ray, it is important that the doctor carefully examine the patient.

Trauma is a common cause of MPS, in the form of muscle strain or ligament and tendon sprain; or as a result of chronic trauma due to repetitive work injury, or altered posture due to poor exercise. An example of the former is whiplash from an auto accident. An example of the latter is an individual who works at a computer all day, and subsequently develops MPS involving the muscles of the upper back and shoulders; such individuals often develop tension headaches. Of course, more than one area may be involved, and this can make distinguishing between MPS and fibromyalgia all the more difficult.

MPS can occur with a variety of medical problems, including spinal disc disease, or inflammatory illnesses. And like fibromyalgia, MPS symptoms can be made worse due to stress, depression, anxiety, fatigue and vitamin deficiencies, to name a few.

It is important for the doctor to identify all other illnesses in an individual patient so that therapy can be most effective and accurate.

As there is no cure for fibromyalgia, so there is no cure for MPS. The goals of treatment should obviously include pain relief and improvement/restoration of mobility and functionality. It is important to identify any other accompanying conditions, and give treatment to these also. Perhaps most importantly, the patient needs to be educated on how to best manage chronic pain, so that life can be lived as normally as possible.

The key differences between these two chronic pain syndromes:
1. MPS has more localized or regional pain versus the diffuse pain of fibromyalgia.
2. MPS patients have “trigger points” which can cause pain at a distant location when pressed, whereas fibromyalgia patients suffer from “tender points”.
3. MPS has a better prognosis, as the pain often resolves with treatment or the rectification of the offending stimulus (such as the ergonomically incorrect office desk); the pain of fibromyalgia has a much higher chance of being chronic.

Unfortunately, many individuals are misdiagnosed with either myofascial pain syndrome or fibromyalgia. Therefore, it’s absolutely essential for the individual experiencing widespread symptoms of pain and fatigue, to seek professional help and follow through with the proper assessments to determine which of these two similar conditions, the individual has developed, in order to properly treat them.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.psychologytoday.com

Many people are diagnosed with fibromyalgia after reporting symptoms of chronic pain, however, it’s safe to say that not all widespread pain could indicate the presence of this painful condition. In fact, myofascial pain syndrome is another condition, frequently misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia.

For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .

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The information herein on "Myofascial Pain Syndrome vs. Fibromyalgia" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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