Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Treatment for myofascial pain syndrome typically includes medications, trigger point injections or physical therapy. No conclusive evidence supports using one therapy over another. Discuss your options and treatment preferences with your doctor. You may need to try more than one approach to find pain relief.
Medications used for myofascial pain syndrome include:
- Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve) may help some people. Or your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers. Some are available in patches that you place on your skin.
- Antidepressants. Many types of antidepressants also can help relieve pain. For some people with myofascial pain syndrome, amitriptyline appears to reduce pain and improve sleep.
- Sedatives. Clonazepam (Klonopin) helps relax muscles affected by myofascial pain syndrome. It must be used carefully because it can cause sleepiness and can be habit-forming.
A physical therapist can devise a plan to help relieve your pain based on your signs and symptoms. Physical therapy to relieve myofascial pain syndrome may involve:
- Stretching. A physical therapist may lead you through gentle stretching exercises to help ease the pain in your affected muscle. If you feel trigger point pain when stretching, the physical therapist may spray a numbing solution on your skin.
- Massage. A physical therapist may massage your affected muscle to help relieve your pain. The physical therapist may use long hand strokes along your muscle or place pressure on specific areas of your muscle to release tension.
- Heat. Applying heat, via a hot pack or a hot shower, can help relieve muscle tension and reduce pain.
- Ultrasound. This type of therapy uses sound waves to increase blood circulation and warmth, which may promote healing in muscles affected by myofascial pain syndrome.
Injecting a numbing agent or a steroid into a trigger point can help relieve pain. In some people, just the act of inserting the needle into the trigger point helps break up the muscle tension. Called dry needling, this technique involves inserting a needle into several places in and around the trigger point. Acupuncture also appears to be helpful for some people who have myofascial pain syndrome.
- Childers MK, et al. Myofascial pain syndrome. In: Frontera WR, et al. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1678/0.html. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
- Langford CA, et al. Myofascial pain syndrome. In: Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
- Colburn KK. Bursitis, tendinitis, myofascial pain and fibromyalgia. In: Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0986-5..C2009-0-38984-9--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0986-5&about=true&uniqId=236797353-5. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
- Annaswamy TM, et al. Emerging concepts in the treatment of myofascial pain: A review of medications, modalities and needle-based interventions. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2011;3:940.
- Bonakdar RA. Myofascial pain syndrome. In: Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-2/0/1494/0.html. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.