Distinguishing Fibromyalgia from Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Fibromyalgia (FM) and myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) are both chronic musculoskeletal pain disorders. These conditions may manifest similar symptoms, which can be easily misdiagnosed. 

According to the World Health Organization, musculoskeletal pain disorders impact 20-33% of the population globally, while 1 in 2 adults in the U.S. lives with some form of painful musculoskeletal condition. Suffice to say, chronic musculoskeletal disorders are a bane and a challenge for doctors when the immediate symptoms seem alike. 

With a proper and careful diagnosis at our pain clinic in Aventura, however, our trained physicians may be able to distinguish between these two conditions following the patient's physical examinations and laboratory tests.

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is characterized by persistent, widespread, or all-over-the-body pain and tenderness that last for more than 3 months. The pain occurs not just in the muscles (myalgia), but also in the joints (arthralgia). 

While there is no inflammation or redness, fibromyalgia discomfort seemingly moves from one part of the body to another. The pain may also be accompanied by fatigue, headache, poor quality of sleep, cognitive problems, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Because of the wide scope of symptoms of fibromyalgia, the American College of Rheumatology established a diagnostic guideline for this condition. It basically states that for a chronic musculoskeletal pain disorder to be considered as fibromyalgia, the pain should be:

  • Widespread in the body
  • Present for at least 3 months
  • Occurring in 11 out of the 18 tender points 

Additionally, the doctor may request blood tests to rule out other conditions like lupus, arthritis, or thyroid disorder. 

Diagnosing Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome arises from tight muscles that feel like knots of ropey bands. The discomfort usually occurs in sensitive areas or trigger points of the muscles, and not widespread and all over the body like fibromyalgia. This is the main difference. 

It bears noting, however, that trigger points naturally develop some pain and tenderness because of how the muscles work. When left unchecked or unmanaged, the pain can progress into myofascial pain syndrome as the knots get bigger and deeper. 

The symptoms of MPS may also cause poor sleep, fatigue, muscle weakness and reduced range of motion. The problem may also worsen after physical activities, or if the weather is too extreme.

Our doctor at pain management, Pembroke Pines may determine if the muscle pain and tenderness are specific or localized, such as in the neck or shoulder, through a physical examination. It is done by pressing the tender points to trigger a muscle twitch. 

Sometimes, however, the doctor may require further tests to rule out other musculoskeletal disorders. As with fibromyalgia, there are no specific diagnostic tests for this type of condition. The doctor has to basically rely on your experiences, as well as the history of your injuries. 

Invariably, when correctly diagnosed, MPS symptoms may be relieved more quickly than FM. It takes five years, or more for fibromyalgia to be accurately diagnosed, according to the American Chronic Pain Association.

Know more about Pain Care Specialists of Florida - Pembroke Pine and Aventura

Pain Management at Pembroke Pines and pain clinic, Aventura offer comprehensive and interventional pain management services. Our pain specialists are expert in performing procedures such as spinal cord stimulation, platelet-rich plasma injections, epidural steroid injections and other innovative techniques to help relieve your pain and regain your quality of life. 

Would you like to know more about our pain clinic in Pembroke Pines and Aventura? Feel free to contact us.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.