PainSci summary of Gulick 2011?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 at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★☆☆☆2-star ratings are for studies with flaws, bias, and/or conflict of interest; published in lesser journals. 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 experiment has the simple elegance of a good science-fair project. Dr. Dawn Gulick of the Widener University Physical Therapy Department simply compared the sensitivity of trigger points both with and without a simple treatment of pressure — squishing them, that is.
Dr. Gulick et al. tested a specific method of squishing: pressing a trigger point firmly and long enough to starve it of some oxygen (ischemic pressure), repeatedly, for several days. They measured trigger point sensitivity before and after treatment in 28 people with two trigger points in the upper back. Their conclusion: “There was a significant difference between the pre- and post-test sensitivities of the treated and non-treated trigger points … ischemic compression … was effective in reducing trigger point irritability.”
Excellent! This is small-scale science, but the results are encouraging and certainly consistent with my professional experience.
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: The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of ischemic pressure on myofascial trigger point (MTrP) sensitivity.
DESIGN: Randomized, controlled study with the researcher assessing MTrP sensitivity blinded to the intervention.
PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-eight people with two MTrPs in the upper back musculature.
INTERVENTION: The sensitivity of two MTrPs in the upper back was assessed with a JTECH algometer. One of the two MTrPs was randomly selected for treatment with a Backnobber II, while the other served as a control.Outcome measures: Pre- and post-test pressure–pain thresholds of the MTrPs.
RESULTS: There was a significant difference between the pre- and post-test sensitivities of the treated and non-treated MTrPs (p = 0.04).
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study confirm that the protocol of six repetitions of 30-s ischemic compression with the Backnobber II rendered every other day for a week was effective in reducing MTrP irritability.
- “The immediate effect of triceps surae myofascial trigger point therapy on restricted active ankle joint dorsiflexion in recreational runners: a crossover randomised controlled trial,” Rob Grieve, Amy Cranston, Andrew Henderson, Rachel John, George Malone, and Christopher Mayall, Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 2013.
- “Myofascial techniques: What are their effects on joint range of motion and pain? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials,” Tamsyn R Webb and Dévan Rajendran, Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 2016.
These three articles on PainScience.com cite Gulick 2011 as a source:
- 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 Trigger Point Doubts — Do muscle knots exist? Exploring controversies about the existence and nature of so-called “trigger points” and myofascial pain syndrome
- PS Trigger Points on Trial — A summary of the kerfuffle over Quintner et al., a key 2014 scientific paper criticizing the conventional wisdom about trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome
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:
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.
- Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Paige 2017 JAMA.