Myofascial pain syndrome and trigger points: evaluation and treatment in patients with musculoskeletal pain

Curr Opin Support Palliat Care. 2019 Sep;13(3):270-276. doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000445.


Purpose of review: Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain condition characterized by the presence of myofascial trigger point, a hyperirritable painful spot involving a limited number of muscle fibers. The literature suggest that myofascial trigger points should be considered peripheral pain generators and this critical review will summarize recent findings concerning the clinical evaluation and the treatment of myofascial trigger points.

Recent findings: The clinical features of myofascial trigger points and their contribution to the patient pain and disability have been detailed in several recent studies, which support the clinical relevance of the condition. Recent studies reported that manual palpation to identify MTrPs has good reliability, although some limitations are intrinsic to the diagnostic criteria. During the last decade, a plethora of treatments have been proposed and positive effects on pain and function demonstrated.

Summary: The myofascial trigger point phenomenon has good face validity and is clinically relevant. Clinicians are encouraged to consider the contribution of myofascial trigger points to the patient's pain and disability through a careful medical history and a specific manual examination. Patients with myofascial trigger points will benefit from a multimodal treatment plan including dry needling and manual therapy techniques. Internal and external validity of research within the field must be improved.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / physiopathology*
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / therapy
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Examination
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Therapy, Soft Tissue / methods
  • Trigger Points / physiopathology*