Background Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a common chronic musculoskeletal syndrome characterized by chronic pain caused by one or several trigger points located in a taut band of skeletal muscle. Although the indigenous knowledge of Thai massage (TM) for relieving this syndrome has been practiced in Thailand for a long period of time, its effects on electromyogram (EMG) and pain in MPS has not yet been clearly verified.
Objectives To determine the immediate effect of TM on muscle activity and pain related parameters in patients with upper back pain associated with myofascial trigger points.
Methods Forty patients diagnosed with chronic upper back pain associated with myofascial trigger points were randomly allocated to receive a 30-minute session of either TM or sham microwave diathermy (sham MWD) using block randomized allocation. Pain intensity (Visual analog scale), Pressure pain threshold and EMG were measured before and immediately after the treatment sessions. The assessor who was blind to the group allocation conducted the measurements of all outcomes.
Results Results indicated that the TM group showed a significant improvement in the pain intensity and pressure pain threshold after the treatment (p<0.05). For these outcomes, similar changes were not observed in the sham MWD group (p>0.05). Moreover, there were significantly higher in the improvement of pain intensity and pressure pain threshold in the TM group when compared with the sham MWD group (p<0.05). Analysis of EMG in the TM group showed a significant decrease in muscle activity (p<0.05) whereas no significant differences was found in the sham MWD group. This measure were also significantly different when compared between the groups (p<0.05).
Conclusions TM can decrease muscle activity and improve pain related parameters in this patient population.
Simons D.G., Travell J.G., Simons L.S. Myofascial pain and disfunction. The trigger point manual. Volumn 1, 2nd ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1999.
Acknowledgements The authors would like to express sincere thanks to all the patients who participated in the present study. This study was supported by Mae Fah Luang University and by Research Center in Back, Neck, Other Joint Pain and Human Performance (BNOJPH) Khon Kaen University.
Disclosure of Interest None declared