Effects of compression at myofascial trigger points in patients with acute low back pain: A randomized controlled trial

Eur J Pain. 2015 Sep;19(8):1186-96. doi: 10.1002/ejp.694. Epub 2015 Mar 24.


Background: Although there is some evidence that massage therapy, especially compression at myofascial trigger points (MTrPs), is effective for sub-acute and chronic low back pain, the effectiveness of massage therapy with compression at MTrPs for acute low back pain has not been studied.

Methods: To evaluate the effectiveness of compression at MTrPs for acute low back pain, 63 patients with acute low back pain were randomly assigned to one of three groups: the MTrP group who received compression at MTrPs (N = 23), the non-MTrP group who received compression at non-trigger points (N = 21), and the effleurage massage group who received superficial massage (N = 19). The patients received the assigned treatment 3 times/week for 2 weeks. The subjective pain intensity in static and dynamic conditions and disability caused by low back pain were measured by the visual analogue scale (VAS) and Roland-Morris questionnaire (RMQ), respectively; along with the range of motion (ROM) at the lumbar region and pressure pain threshold (PPT) at trigger points before treatment (baseline), 1 week after the start of treatment, and 1 month after the end of treatment (follow-up).

Results: Static and dynamic VAS score, PPT and ROM were significantly improved in the MTrP group compared with those in the non-MTrP and effleurage groups.

Conclusions: These results indicate that compression at MTrPs is effective to treat acute low back pain compared with compression at non-MTrPs and superficial massage. For this article, a commentary is available at the Wiley Online Library.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asian People
  • Endpoint Determination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Martial Arts / injuries
  • Massage* / adverse effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trigger Points*
  • Young Adult