[MPS Myofascial Pain Syndrome] [tender points] [trigger points] [generalized morning stiffness] [persistent fatigue] [non-refreshing sleep] [widespread pain or aching] [muscle pain] [pain and stiffness] [depression] ]numbness] [headaches] [back pain] [tennis elbow] [shoulder pain] [knee pain]


IN THE EARLY 1980s, following the national media launching of Bonnie Prudden’s book Pain Erasure The Bonnie Prudden Way, we began seeing patients in our Stockbridge, MA clinic who came with the diagnosis of “fibromyalgia.” Our Myotherapists noted that although these patients had multiple symptoms, they all had one symptom in common: muscle pain.

Dr. Tivy On Muscle Pain
In Bonnie’s follow-up book, Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide To Pain Free Living, Dr. Desmond Tivy noted in his Afterword:

Essentially, Myotherapy relieves certain disorders of musculoskeletal (strictly neuromuscular) function….” “It can, predictably, relieve trigger points, which are the basis of the fibrositic (or fibromyalgia) syndrome. The hypothesis behind the fibrosistic syndrome is that areas of localized dystonia develop, on a multifactorial basis, throwing the neurovascular system “off balance,” so to speak.

The fibromyalgia syndrome has been well documented and delineated, with the familiar patterns of pain and stiffness, and less consistently, of depression, and subjective symptoms of temperature changes and/or numbness. Among the multiple factors that can precipitate it are personality, disordered sleep patterns, occupation, hobbies, injuries, posture, weather and so forth. It would seem that trigger points are probably a lot commoner than we have realized and are by no means confined to full-blown cases of fibrositis.

Myotherapy involves (1) temporary erasure of whatever neuromuscular circuitry causes a trigger point, and (2) reprogramming said circuitry with stretching exercises.

Other ways (manipulation, injections, acupuncture, TENS, vibration, biofeedback, etc.) have been used successfully by others for trigger point erasure, whereas Myotherapy uses pressure, which has a high convenience and availability and low side effect and cost compared with most other methods… in a word its merit is simplicity.

Other ways have also been used for reprogramming after pain alleviation, ways that attempt, as does Myotherapy, to teach the system how to “balance” itself….i.e. restore proper local, as well as general, muscle tone. It is my impression that the exercises used in Myotherapy clinics are more effective than others I have come across.

Reprogramming (learning) proper muscle tone and balance (defined as that which produce a pain-free existence) can seemingly be achieved in three possible ways, alone or in combination: (1) avoidance of pain-producing postures and movements: (2) strengthening of muscles that allow pain because they are weak; and (3) muscle-efficiency promotion by relief of trigger points contained therein, with subsequent muscle stretching. It is this third method that is used in Myotherapy, although the patient may, coincidentally or unconsciously, use a certain amount of the other two methods as well.

Fibromyalgia Meeting
In 1991, Bonnie Prudden was invited to speak to a group of people in Springfield, MA who had been diagnosed as having fibromyalgia. These were patients of several doctors in the area who specialized in fibromyalgia symptoms. And this was their monthly meeting. We had barely entered the room before several of the doctors were asking Bonnie what she was going to do and what Myotherapy was, was it like…?

The group of about 150 hurting, desperate people were ready for any help they could get.

After about a 20 minute introduction about Myotherapy and how it works, Bonnie asked for people from the audience who had headaches. Five people raised their hands. Since our staff and students were there with us we set up five chairs with a headache in each one and a staff or student behind each chair. Each addressed the most common trigger points for headaches. After five minutes, four of the headaches were gone. The other was improved and needed more work on the sidelines.

This went on for another 40 minutes as person after person was relieved of back pain, elbow pain, knee pain, and shoulder pain. Interspersed were group exercises done in their chairs. By the end of the hour many people had been relieved of their pain and two of our staff had been offered jobs in the doctor’s offices.

If Bonnie could get rid of their pain in minutes did they really have fibromyalgia? Were the doctors right? Wrong? Did it even matter as long as the pain was gone?

What the Bonnie Prudden Myotherapists Found
Over the years what our Myotherapists noted was that when they treated the muscle pain aspect of the fibromyalgia syndrome that many of the other symptoms could be handled more easily. When the pain lessened, the patient outlook improved. They slept better. They were able to exercise more. Their strength and endurance improved. They had more energy.

In 1994 we did a relatively small study on 21 patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Most had gone years prior to receiving the diagnoses and all had tried other disciplines, mostly ineffective, prior to finding Myotherapy. Most of the 21 found relief after the first or second Myotherapy treatment. Only two found no help. One of these two did not follow the corrective exercise homework spoken of by Dr. Tivy. The other went to the gym and over worked her muscles. All the others followed the corrective exercise protocol prescribed by the Myotherapist and kept their pain well within a range of comfort.

And The Question Is?
When we first moved to Tucson, AZ in 1992, we joined a group of health professionals that met once a month. The routine was meet, greet, enjoy refreshments and then a lecture.

This particular evening the subject was Myofascial Pain Syndrome / Fibromyalgia Syndrome / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. After droning on for at least an hour, the conclusion was reached: these syndromes share common complaints and overlap one another.

Whether that is true or not is not for me to say. However, the crowning question came out of the blue and very suddenly.

We were almost to the end of the hour and the lecturer had been discussing trigger points vs tender points. By then Bonne was so bored that she was doodling. All of a sudden the speaker was saying, “And what do you think?” He was addressing Bonnie without using her name and since she was looking down at her doodle she didn’t know she was being addressed. I poked her and whispered, “He’s asking you.”

“What difference does is make whether you call them tender points or trigger points, as long as you can get rid of the pain?”

It doesn’t matter what you call it, if you understand it, what the “experts” say about it. What does matter? What does matter is: what works for you? If it works, use it AND when you find it – whatever it is – share it with others.


For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bpruddencom.wwwaz1-lr2.supercp.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®