Short- and medium-term effects of manual therapy on cervical active range of motion and pressure pain sensitivity in latent myofascial pain of the upper trapezius muscle

The authors’ intention in this study was to investigate effects of different manual techniques on cervical ranges of motion and pressure pain sensitivity in patientss with latent trigger point of the upper trapezius muscle. For the study 117 volunteers, with a unilateral latent trigger point on upper trapezius due to computer work, were randomly divided into 5 groups: ischemic compression (IC) group (n = 24); passive stretching group (n = 23); muscle energy technique group (n = 23); and 2 control groups, wait-and-see group (n = 25) and placebo group (n = 22). Cervical spine range of movement was measured using a cervical range of motion instrument in addition to pressure pain sensitivity by means of an algometer and a visual analog scale. Outcomes were assessed pretreatment, immediately, and 24 hours after the intervention and 1 week later by a blind researcher. A 4 × 5 mixed repeaed-measures anatlysis of variance was used to examine the effects of the intervention and Cohen d coefficient was used. A group-by-time interaction was detected in all variables (P < .01), except contralateral rotation. The immediate effect sizes of the contralateral flexion, ipsilateral rotation, and pressure pain threshold were large for 3 experimental groups. Regardless, after 24 hours and 1 week, only IC group maintained the effect size.

The study found that manual techniques on upper trapezius with latent trigger point appeared to improve the cervical range of motion and the pressure pain sensitivity. The effects remained after 1 week in the IC group.