by EBSCO Medical Review Board


Trigger points are small sites of tight muscles. Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is when pressure on trigger points results in pain in other parts of the body.


The cause is not clear.

Trigger points causes are:

  • Injury, such as to discs in between the spinal bones
  • Muscle overuse
  • Emotional stress or tension

The trigger point can stay even after the cause of it has healed.

Risk Factors

MPS may be more common in women.


MPS may cause:

  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Pain in parts of the body other than the trigger point
  • Problems moving
  • A feeling of pins and needles


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on areas of pain. The doctor may diagnose you based on your symptoms and whether you have trigger points.

Muscles of the Back
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


The goal of treatment is to ease pain. Choices are:

  • Supportive care, such as rest and cold compresses
  • Medicines to ease pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy to ease tension in trigger points
  • Dry needling or acupuncture to loosen a trigger point
  • Massage therapy


The risk of this problem may be lowered by making ergonomic changes to the workplace. Some examples are learning the right lifting methods, improving posture, and sitting the right way.


American Physical Therapy Association 

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians 


Canadian Physiotherapy Association 

Health Canada 


Myofascial pain syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed January 25, 2021.

Myofascial pain syndrome: Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: Accessed January 25, 2021.

Saxena A, Chansoria M, et al. Myofascial Pain Syndrome: An Overview. J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2015 Jan 5.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2020
  • Update Date: 01/25/2021