Background: Acupuncture stimulates points on the body, influencing the perception of myofascial pain or altering physiologic functions.
Objective: The aim was to evaluate the effect of electroacupuncture (EAC) and acupuncture (AC) for myofascial pain of the upper trapezius and cervical range of motion, using SHAM acupuncture as control.
Method: Sixty women presenting at least one trigger point at the upper trapezius and local or referred pain for more than six months were randomized into EAC, AC, and SHAM groups. Eight sessions were scheduled and a follow-up was conducted after 28 days. The Visual Analog Scale assessed the intensity of local and general pain. A fleximeter assessed cervical movements. Data were analyzed using paired t or Wilcoxon's tests, ANOVA or Friedman or Kruskal-Wallis tests and Pearson's correlation (α=0.05).
Results: There was reduction in general pain in the EAC and AC groups after eight sessions (P<0.001). A significant decrease in pain intensity occurred for the right trapezius in all groups and for the left trapezius in the EAC and AC groups. Intergroup comparisons showed improvement in general pain in the EAC and AC groups and in local pain intensity in the EAC group (P<0.05), which showed an increase in left rotation (P=0.049). The AC group showed increases in inclination (P=0.005) sustained until follow-up and rotation to the right (P=0.032).
Conclusion: EAC and AC were effective in reducing the pain intensity compared with SHAM. EAC was better than AC for local pain relief. These treatments can assist in increasing cervical range of motion, albeit subtly.