Journal: Best Practice and Research. Clinical Rheumatology
. 2007 Jun;21(3):427-45.
Author and affiliation: Bennett R. Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA.
Myofascial pain refers to a specific form of soft-tissue rheumatism that results from irritable foci (trigger points) within skeletal muscles and their ligamentous junctions. It must be distinguished from bursitis, tendonitis, hypermobility syndromes, Fibromyalgia and fasciitis.
On the other hand it often exists as part of a clinical complex that includes these other soft-tissue conditions, that is, it is not a diagnosis of exclusion. The clinical science of trigger points can be traced to the pioneering work of Kellgren in the 1930s, with his mapping of myotomal referral patterns of pain resulting from the injection of hypertonic saline into muscle and ligaments.
Most muscles have characteristic myotomal patterns of referred pain; this feature forms the basis of the clinical recognition of myofascial trigger points in the form of a tender locus within a taut band of muscle which restricts the full range of motion and refers pain centrifugally when stimulated.
Although myofascial pain syndromes have been described in the medical literature for about the last 100 years, it is only recently that scientific studies have revealed objective abnormalities.