Fibromyalgia vs Myofascial Pain Syndrome: Are they related?


Chronic pain syndromes like fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome (MFS) are often confused, and sometimes painted by uniformed practitioners with the same broad brush. Consequently, some patients with MFS may be misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, and vice versa. However, while the two syndromes share pain as a common denominator, the origins of pain differ, as does the treatment.

One primary difference between the two conditions is that treatment for MFS can completely resolve the issue, while fibromyalgia treatment may alleviate pain but will not eliminate the condition altogether. In some cases, the two conditions may coexist in the same patient.

Fibromyalgia vs MFS

One way to understand the difference between fibromyalgia and MFS is to look at the distinguishing characteristics of each:

  • Population affected: MFS occurs with equal frequency in both men and women. Eighty to 90 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers are female.
  • Cause: MFS most commonly occurs as a result of trauma, overuse, disuse or inefficient use of muscles. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts often experience MFS at some point as a result of muscle wear and tear. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but the condition is thought to be associated with heightened sensitivity to pain that originates in the patient’s brain and central nervous system.
  • Symptoms: Fibromyalgia is characterized by tender point pain and sensitivity to touch that can occur in any area of the body, or can migrate from one area to another. Fibromyalgia pain is often described as flu-like achy-ness. Pain is often accompanied by fatigue, sleep disruption, irritable bowels, cognitive dysfunction and a host of other associated symptoms. MFS often presents as muscle knots, called trigger points, or tight ropey muscles that are localized. Like fibromyalgia, MFS sufferers may also experience fatigue and sleep disorders. Pain from trigger points may be referred, meaning they cause pain in an area non-adjacent to the trigger point itself.
  • Treatment: Treatment for fibromyalgia focuses on reducing and managing pain and other symptoms, using a range of therapies including acupuncture, aromatherapy, yoga, massage, biofeedback and more. MFS can be treated with specific MFS therapy, designed to relax tight muscles and fascial tissue, and restore function to the patient’s musculoskeletal system. Fibromyalgia patients do not stand to benefit from MFS therapy.

Chronic Pain Treatment in NYC

If you are suffering from generalized chronic pain, an accurate diagnosis is essential to finding the best treatment. The pain management specialists at NYDNRehab use the most advanced technologies and cutting edge approaches to diagnosis and treatment of FMS, fibromyalgia and other pain disorders. You don’t have to resign yourself to a lifetime of pain and medication. Contact NYDNRehab today, and take the first steps toward treatment so you can enjoy your life to its fullest.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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