Immediate effect of activator trigger point therapy and myofascial band therapy on non-specific neck pain in patients with upper trapezius trigger points compared to sham ultrasound: A randomised controlled trial

Anja Blikstad and Hugh Gemmell

The objective of this study was to determine the immediate effect of activator trigger point therapy and myofascial band therapy compared to sham ultrasound on non-specific neck pain, cervical lateral flexion and pain pressure threshold of upper trapezius trigger points.  Forty-five subjects with non-specific neck pain of at least 4 on an 11-point numerical rating scale, an upper trapezius trigger point and decreased cervical lateral flexion were recruited.  The subjects were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: activator trigger point therapy, myofascial band therapy or sham ultrasound (control group). All subjects attended one treatment session and outcome measures were repeated within 5 min after treatment.  There was no statistically significant difference between the groups at baseline in age, pain level, lateral cervical flexion or pain pressure threshold. For the primary outcome measure of pain reduction the odds of a patient improving with activator trigger point therapy was 7 times higher than a patient treated with myofascial band therapy or sham ultrasound. The number needed to treat with activator trigger point therapy for one patient to improve was 3.

Activator trigger point therapy appears to be more effective than myofascial band therapy or sham ultrasound in treating patients with non-specific neck pain and upper trapezius trigger points.

Clinical Chiropractic, 2008, 11(1), 23-29

Link to Abstract

Neck Pain

Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study, neck pain ranked 4th highest in terms of disability and 21st in terms of overall burden.
Research article posted by: Rachael Lowe

Rachael Lowe is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Physiopedia. A physiotherapist and technology specialist Rachael has been working with Physiopedia since 2008 to create a resource that provides universal access to physiotherapy knowledge as well as a platform for connecting and educating the global physiotherapy profession.

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