Myofascial pain and fibromyalgia share a number of common features: the patient is uncomfortable; abnormalities can be detected on physical examination; and there is a lack of an objective means to either quantify or visualize their core features. This has undoubtedly contributed to a slowed acceptance of their importance by the medical community. Fortunately, the situation is beginning to change. Although progress may be somewhat slower in fibromyalgia, in which attention appears to focus on pain sensitivity and functional brain imaging, a number of approaches now seem promising in their ability to quantify the physical and biochemical characteristics of the taut bands and trigger points of myofascial pain. This review focuses on myofascial pain with an emphasis on the growing capability of MRI, microanalytic techniques, and ultrasonography to assess, quantitate, and even visualize the characteristics of these stigmatic lesions.
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