Four articles on PainSci cite Myburgh 2008: 1. The Complete Guide to Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain 2. Is Diagnosis for Pain Problems Reliable? 3. Trigger Point Doubts 4. Palpatory Pareidolia & Diagnosis by Touch
PainSci commentary on Myburgh 2008: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.
This 2008 review of the reliability of trigger point diagnosis resoundingly concluded that the question simply hasn’t been properly studied. The authors urge clinicians and scientists to “move toward simpler, global assessments of patient status.” Translation: “Nothing to see here, move along!”
This is essentially the same conclusion as a 2009 review by Lucas et al.
~ Paul Ingraham
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the reproducibility of manual palpation in identifying trigger points based on a systematic review of available literature.
DATA SOURCES: Medline (1965-2007), CINHAL (1982-2007), ISI Web of Science (1945-2007), and MANTIS (1966-2007) databases and reference lists of articles.
STUDY SELECTION: Reproducibility studies relating to identification and diagnosis of trigger points through palpation. Acceptable studies were required to specifically consider either inter- or intrarater reliability of trigger point identification through manual palpation and include kappa statistics as part of their statistical assessment.
DATA EXTRACTION: Three independent reviewers considered the studies for inclusion and rated their methodologic quality based on the Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy guidelines for the reporting of diagnostic studies.
DATA SYNTHESIS: Eleven studies were initially included; however, 5 were subsequently excluded based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Only 2 studies were judged to be of high quality, and the level of evidence criteria suggested that, at best, moderate evidence could be found from which to make pronouncements on the literature. Only local tenderness of the trapezius (kappa range, .15-.62) and pain referral of the gluteus medius (kappa range, .298-.487) and quadratus lumborum (kappa range, .36-.501) were found to be reproducible.
CONCLUSIONS: The methodologic quality of the majority of studies for the purpose of establishing trigger point reproducibility is generally poor. More high-quality studies are needed to comment on this procedure. Clinicians and scientists are urged to move toward simpler, global assessments of patient status.
- “Reliability of physical examination for diagnosis of myofascial trigger points: a systematic review of the literature,” Nicholas Lucas, Petra Macaskill, Les Irwig, Robert Moran, and Nikolai Bogduk, Clinical Journal of Pain, 2009.
- “Interrater Agreement of Manual Palpation for Identification of Myofascial Trigger Points: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Alasdair T L Rathbone, Liza Grosman-Rimon, and Dinesh A Kumbhare, The Clinical Journal of Pain, 2017.
- “Clinical precision of myofascial trigger point location in the trapezius muscle,” V M Sciotti, V L Mittak, L DiMarco, L M Ford, J Plezbert, E Santipadri, J Wigglesworth, and K Ball, Pain, 2001.
- “Interrater reliability in myofascial trigger point examination,” R D Gerwin, S Shannon, C Z Hong, D Hubbard, and R Gevirtz, Pain, 1997.
- “Travell, Simons and Cargo Cult Science,” Fred Wolfe, FMperplex.com.
- “The fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndromes: a preliminary study of tender points and trigger points in persons with fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome and no disease,” F Wolfe, D G Simons, J Fricton, R M Bennett, D L Goldenberg, R Gerwin, D Hathaway, G A McCain, I J Russell, and H O Sanders, Journal of Rheumatology, 1992.
- “Interrater reliability: the kappa statistic,” Mary L McHugh, Biochem Med (Zagreb), 2012.
- “The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data,” J R Landis and G G Koch, Biometrics, 1977.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- No long-term effects after a three-week open-label placebo treatment for chronic low back pain: a three-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Kleine-Borgmann 2022 Pain.
- Exercise and education versus saline injections for knee osteoarthritis: a randomised controlled equivalence trial. Bandak 2022 Ann Rheum Dis.
- Association of Lumbar MRI Findings with Current and Future Back Pain in a Population-based Cohort Study. Kasch 2022 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Yousef 2013 Anaesthesia.
- Is Neck Posture Subgroup in Late Adolescence a Risk Factor for Persistent Neck Pain in Young Adults? A Prospective Study. Richards 2021 Phys Ther.