The effectiveness of manual versus algometer pressure release techniques for treating active myofascial trigger points of the upper trapezius

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2016 Oct;20(4):863-869. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2016.02.008. Epub 2016 Feb 21.


Manual pressure release (MPR) is a popular treatment of trigger points. Yet, treatment response may be influenced by inconsistent application of pressure. Further, it may contribute to increased risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the wrist and hand in therapists. Therefore, this study aimed at introducing a novel method to apply pressure using the algometer and to compare its effectiveness to MPR. Forty-five volunteers with active trigger points of the upper trapezius received algometer pressure release (APR), MPR, or sham ultrasound (US). Pain pressure threshold (PPT) and contralateral active and passive neck side-bending ranges were assessed at baseline and immediately after a single session. Results showed no significant differences in post-treatment PPT between the study groups (p > 0.05). The APR group showed a significant increase in passive side-bending range compared with the two other groups, whereas active range improved in the APR compared with the US group (p < 0.05). Our results show that using algometer to apply pressure release to upper trapezius trigger points is more effective compared with manual release and sham US.

Keywords: Algometer; Myofascial trigger points; Pressure pain threshold; Pressure release.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold
  • Superficial Back Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Therapy, Soft Tissue / instrumentation*
  • Therapy, Soft Tissue / methods*
  • Trigger Points / physiopathology*