Prevalence of myofascial pain in general internal medicine practice

West J Med. 1989 Aug;151(2):157-60.


Myofascial pain is a regional pain syndrome characterized in part by a trigger point in a taut band of skeletal muscle and its associated referred pain. We examined a series of 172 patients presenting to a university primary care general internal medicine practice. Of 54 patients whose reason for a visit included pain, 16 (30%) satisfied criteria for a clinical diagnosis of myofascial pain. These patients were similar in age and sex to other patients with pain, and the frequency of pain as a primary complaint was similar for myofascial pain as compared with other reasons for pain. The usual intensity of myofascial pain as assessed by a visual analog scale was high, comparable to or possibly greater than pain due to other causes. Patients with upper body pain were more likely to have myofascial pain than patients with pain located elsewhere. Physicians rarely recognized the myofascial pain syndrome. Commonly applied therapies for myofascial pain provided substantial abrupt reduction in pain intensity. The prevalence and severity of myofascial pain in this university internal medicine setting suggest that regional myofascial pain may be an important cause of pain complaints in the practice of general internal medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine*
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / epidemiology*
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement