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      Treatment of myofascial trigger points in patients with chronic shoulder pain: a randomized, controlled trial

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          Shoulder pain is a common musculoskeletal problem that is often chronic or recurrent. Myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) cause shoulder pain and are prevalent in patients with shoulder pain. However, few studies have focused on MTrP therapy. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of multimodal treatment of MTrPs in patients with chronic shoulder pain.


          A single-assessor, blinded, randomized, controlled trial was conducted. The intervention group received comprehensive treatment once weekly consisting of manual compression of the MTrPs, manual stretching of the muscles and intermittent cold application with stretching. Patients were instructed to perform muscle-stretching and relaxation exercises at home and received ergonomic recommendations and advice to assume and maintain good posture. The control group remained on the waiting list for 3 months. The Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) questionnaire score (primary outcome), Visual Analogue Scale for Pain (VAS-P), Global Perceived Effect (GPE) scale and the number of muscles with MTrPs were assessed at 6 and 12 weeks in the intervention group and compared with those of a control group.


          Compared with the control group, the intervention group showed significant improvement ( P < 0.05) on the DASH after 12 weeks (mean difference, 7.7; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.2 to 14.2), on the VAS-P1 for current pain (mean difference, 13.8; 95% CI, 2.6 to 25.0), on the VAS-P2 for pain in the past 7 days (mean difference, 10.2; 95% CI, 0.7 to 19.7) and VAS-P3 most severe pain in the past 7 days (mean difference, 13.8; 95% CI, 0.8 to 28.4). After 12 weeks, 55% of the patients in the intervention group reported improvement (from slightly improved to completely recovered) versus 14% in the control group. The mean number of muscles with active MTrPs decreased in the intervention group compared with the control group (mean difference, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.2 to 4.2).


          The results of this study show that 12-week comprehensive treatment of MTrPs in shoulder muscles reduces the number of muscles with active MTrPs and is effective in reducing symptoms and improving shoulder function in patients with chronic shoulder pain.

          Trial registration number

          ISRCTN: ISRCTN75722066

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          Most cited references 66

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          Measuring the whole or the parts? Validity, reliability, and responsiveness of the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand outcome measure in different regions of the upper extremity.

           D Beaton,  J N Katz,  A Fossel (2015)
          The Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) outcome measure was developed to evaluate disability and symptoms in single or multiple disorders of the upper limb at one point or at many points in time. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the reliability, validity, and responsiveness of the DASH in a group of diverse patients and to compare the results with those obtained with joint-specific measures. Two hundred patients with either wrist/hand or shoulder problems were evaluated by use of questionnaires before treatment, and 172 (86%) were re-evaluated 12 weeks after treatment. Eighty-six patients also completed a test-retest questionnaire three to five days after the initial (baseline) evaluation. The questionnaire package included the DASH, the Brigham (carpal tunnel) questionnaire, the SPADI (Shoulder Pain and Disability Index), and other markers of pain and function. Correlations or t-tests between the DASH and the other measures were used to assess construct validity. Test-retest reliability was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient and other summary statistics. Responsiveness was described using standardized response means, receiver operating characteristics curves, and correlations between change in DASH score and change in scores of other measures. Standard response means were used to compare DASH responsiveness with that of the Brigham questionnaire and the SPADI in each region. The DASH was found to correlate with other measures (r > 0.69) and to discriminate well, for example, between patients who were working and those who were not (p<0.0001). Test-retest reliability (ICC = 0.96) exceeded guidelines. The responsiveness of the DASH (to self-rated or expected change) was comparable with or better than that of the joint-specific measures in the whole group and in each region. Evidence was provided of the validity, test-retest reliability, and responsiveness of the DASH. This study also demonstrated that the DASH had validity and responsiveness in both proximal and distal disorders, confirming its usefulness across the whole extremity.
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            Anterior acromioplasty for the chronic impingement syndrome in the shoulder: a preliminary report.

             Charles Neer (1971)
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              Biochemicals associated with pain and inflammation are elevated in sites near to and remote from active myofascial trigger points.

              To investigate the biochemical milieu of the upper trapezius muscle in subjects with active, latent, or absent myofascial trigger points (MTPs) and to contrast this with that of the noninvolved gastrocnemius muscle. We used a microanalytic technique, including needle insertions at standardized locations in subjects identified as active (having neck pain and MTP), latent (no neck pain but with MTP), or normal (no neck pain, no MTP). We followed a predetermined sampling schedule; first in the trapezius muscle and then in normal gastrocnemius muscle, to measure pH, bradykinin, substance P, calcitonin gene-related peptide, tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 1beta (IL-1beta), IL-6, IL-8, serotonin, and norepinephrine, using immunocapillary electrophoresis and capillary electrochromatography. Pressure algometry was obtained. We compared analyte concentrations among groups with 2-way repeated-measures analysis of variance. A biomedical research facility. Nine healthy volunteer subjects. Not applicable. Preselected analyte concentrations. Within the trapezius muscle, concentrations for all analytes were higher in active subjects than in latent or normal subjects (P<.002); pH was lower (P<.03). At needle insertion, analyte concentrations in the trapezius for the active group were always higher (pH not different) than concentrations in the gastrocnemius muscle. At all times within the gastrocnemius, the active group had higher concentrations of all analytes than did subjects in the latent and normal groups (P<.05); pH was lower (P<.01). We have shown the feasibility of continuous, in vivo recovery of small molecules from soft tissue without harmful effects. Subjects with active MTPs in the trapezius muscle have a biochemical milieu of selected inflammatory mediators, neuropeptides, cytokines, and catecholamines different from subjects with latent or absent MTPs in their trapezius. These concentrations also differ quantitatively from a remote, uninvolved site in the gastrocnemius muscle. The milieu of the gastrocnemius in subjects with active MTPs in the trapezius differs from subjects without active MTPs.

                Author and article information

                BMC Med
                BMC Medicine
                BioMed Central
                24 January 2011
                : 9
                : 8
                [1 ]Scientific Institute for Quality of Healthcare, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
                [2 ]Private Practice for Physical Therapy for Neck, Shoulder and Upper Extremity Disorders, Groningen, The Netherlands
                [3 ]Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Clinical Orthopedic Research Center Midden-Nederland, Diakonessenhuis, Utrecht, The Netherlands
                [4 ]Bethesda Physiocare, Bethesda, MD, USA
                [5 ]Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
                Copyright ©2011 Bron et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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