The role of myofascial trigger points in head and neck pain
PainSci summary of Fernández-de-Las-Peñas 2007?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focussed 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 at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
This review of the scientific literature, unfortunately, has little scientific literature to review: not much research has been done on the relationship between trigger points and neck pain, and — as is so often the case in musculoskeletal health care — “additional studies are needed.” However, the authors suggest that “it seems that the pain profile of neck and head syndromes may be provoked referred pain from TrPs in the posterior cervical, head, and shoulder muscles” and that there is some evidence “that both tension headache and migraine are associated with referred pain from trigger points.”
Neck and head pain syndromes are common problems seen in clinical practice. Pain features of commonly designated idiopathic neck pain and some primary headaches (ie, tension-type headache or migraine) fit the descriptions of referred pain originating in muscle trigger points (TrPs). This article discusses the scientific evidence supporting the role of muscle TrPs in chronic musculo-skeletal disorders of the neck and head. The relevance of referred pain elicited by muscle TrPs in patients with neck pain has been investigated in few studies. Some authors found that both muscle TrPs in neck-shoulder muscles and cervical joint dysfunctions contribute at the same time to neck pain perception. Furthermore, it seems that referred pain originated in muscle TrPs could also contribute to neck symptoms perceived by subjects after a rear-end crash. In addition, several recent studies reported that both TTH and migraine are associated with referred pain from TrPs in the suboccipital, upper trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, temporalis, or superior oblique muscles. Referred pain elicited by active TrPs mimics the pain areas observed during head pain attacks in these primary headaches. Based on available data, it seems that the pain profile of neck and head syndromes may be provoked referred pain from TrPs in the posterior cervical, head, and shoulder muscles. Additional studies are needed to delineate more information on the relation between muscle TrPs and musculoskeletal pain syndromes of the head and neck.
- “Myofascial trigger points in subjects presenting with mechanical neck pain: A blinded, controlled study,” an article in Manual Therapy, 2007.
- “Myofascial trigger points and their relationship to headache clinical parameters in chronic tension-type headache,” an article in Headache, 2006.
- “Myofascial trigger points in cluster headache patients: a case series,” an article in Head & Face Medicine, 2008.
These four articles on PainScience.com cite Fernández-de-Las-Peñas 2007 as a source:
- PS Massage Therapy for Tension Headaches — Perfect Spot No. 1, in the suboccipital muscles of the neck, under the back of the skull.
- PS Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain Syndrome — A guide to the unfinished science of muscle pain, with reviews of every theory and self-treatment and therapy option
- PS Complete Guide to Tension Headaches — Detailed, readable self-help for stubborn tension headaches, especially due to muscle pain in the neck and shoulders
- PS Save Yourself from Neck Pain! — All your treatment and self-help options for a crick in the neck explained and reviewed