Table of Contents
International Scholarly Research Notices
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 523924, 16 pages
Review Article

Mechanisms of Myofascial Pain

Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, MNS 2A1, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA

Received 16 March 2014; Revised 8 June 2014; Accepted 10 June 2014; Published 18 August 2014

Academic Editor: Kazuhisa Nishizawa

Copyright © 2014 M. Saleet Jafri. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Myofascial pain syndrome is an important health problem. It affects a majority of the general population, impairs mobility, causes pain, and reduces the overall sense of well-being. Underlying this syndrome is the existence of painful taut bands of muscle that contain discrete, hypersensitive foci called myofascial trigger points. In spite of the significant impact on public health, a clear mechanistic understanding of the disorder does not exist. This is likely due to the complex nature of the disorder which involves the integration of cellular signaling, excitation-contraction coupling, neuromuscular inputs, local circulation, and energy metabolism. The difficulties are further exacerbated by the lack of an animal model for myofascial pain to test mechanistic hypothesis. In this review, current theories for myofascial pain are presented and their relative strengths and weaknesses are discussed. Based on new findings linking mechanoactivation of reactive oxygen species signaling to destabilized calcium signaling, we put forth a novel mechanistic hypothesis for the initiation and maintenance of myofascial trigger points. It is hoped that this lays a new foundation for understanding myofascial pain syndrome and how current therapies work, and gives key insights that will lead to the improvement of therapies for its treatment.