Objective: Despite the increasing awareness of the contribution of myofascial dysfunctions to upper limb pain in breast cancer survivors, reliability of the identification of myofascial trigger points (MTPs) in this population has not yet been investigated. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the interrater reliability of the identification of MTPs by palpation at the upper limb region in breast cancer survivors with upper limb pain.
Design: Interrater reliability study.
Setting: University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium.
Subjects: Thirty breast cancer survivors with pain at the upper limb region.
Methods: Nine muscles (upper trapezius, levator scapulae, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, teres major and minor, subscapularis, pectoralis major, and scalene muscles) at the operated side were examined. The weighted kappa (WK) coefficient and Absolute Agreement with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
Results: Moderate agreement was found for all examined upper limb muscles (WK = 0.41-0.60), except for the trapezius muscle, for which the agreement was almost perfect (WK = 0.83), and the supraspinatus muscle (WK = 0.23), for which the agreement was only fair.
Conclusions: For most muscles, moderate interrater reliability for the identification of MTPs by palpation in breast cancer survivors with upper limb pain was found. Therefore, we concluded that the identification of MTPs by palpation may add to the diagnosis of the myofascial pain syndrome in breast cancer survivors.