This article reviews the available published knowledge about the diagnosis, pathophysiology and treatment of myofascial pain syndromes from trigger points. Furthermore, epidemiologic data and clinical characteristics of these syndromes are described, including a detailed account of sensory changes that occur at both painful and nonpainful sites and their utility for diagnosis and differential diagnosis; the identification/diagnostic criteria available so far are critically reviewed. The key role played by myofascial trigger points as activating factors of pain symptoms in other algogenic conditions--headache, fibromyalgia and visceral disease--is also addressed. Current hypotheses on the pathophysiology of myofascial pain syndromes are presented, including mechanisms of formation and persistence of primary and secondary trigger points as well as mechanisms beyond referred pain and hyperalgesia from trigger points. Conventional and most recent therapeutic options for these syndromes are described, and their validity is discussed on the basis of results from clinical controlled studies.
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