Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is defined as the ‘sensory, motor and autonomic symptoms caused by myofascial trigger points (MTrPs)’ and is a now a recognised diagnosis amongst pain physicians (Harden et al, 2000).

Dr Janet Travell (1901-1997) is generally credited with bringing MTrPs to the attention of healthcare workers in the 1940s, though MTrPs have been ‘rediscovered’ many times as far back as the 16th century (Ruhmann, 1940). According to Dommerholt and colleagues (2011), in the late 1930s Travell was compelled to switch her focus from cardiology to musculoskeletal pain after learning that many muscles and spinal ligaments when injected with hypertonic saline (known to induce pain experimentally), elicited repeatable referred pain patterns.

This eventuated in publishing a paper in 1952 on the myofascial genesis of pain with detailed referred pain patterns for 32 muscles, prompting further research on the topic from Europe, Australia and the USA on the existence of MTrPs, their symptoms and treatment.