Reversible tactile hypoesthesia associated with myofascial trigger points: a pilot study on prevalence and clinical implications

Pain Rep. 2019 Jul 15;4(4):e772. doi: 10.1097/PR9.0000000000000772. eCollection 2019 Jul-Aug.


Introduction: Tactile hypoesthesia observed in patients with myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is sometimes reversible when pain is relieved by trigger point injections (TPIs). We aimed to investigate the prevalence of such reversible hypoesthesia during TPI therapy and topographical relations between areas of tactile hypoesthesia and myofascial trigger points (MTrP) in patients with MPS.

Methods: Forty-six consecutive patients with MTrP were enrolled in this study. We closely observed changes in areas of tactile hypoesthesia in patients who had tactile hypoesthesia at the first visit, and throughout TPI therapy. Tactile stimulation was given using cotton swabs, and the areas of tactile hypoesthesia were delineated with an aqueous marker and recorded in photographs.

Results: A reduction in the size of hypoesthetic area with TPI was observed in 27 (58.7%) patients. All the 27 patients experienced a reduction in pain intensity by more than 50% in a numerical rating scale score through TPI therapy. In 9 patients, the reduction in the sizes of hypoesthetic areas occurred 10 minutes after TPI. Complete disappearance of tactile hypoesthesia after TPI therapy was observed in 6 of the 27 patients. Myofascial trigger points were located in the muscles in the vicinity of ipsilateral cutaneous dermatomes to which the hypoesthetic areas belonged.

Conclusion: Our results indicate a relatively high prevalence of reversible tactile hypoesthesia in patients with MPS. Mapping of tactile hypoesthetic areas seems clinically useful for detecting MTrP. In addition, treating MTrP with TPI may be important for distinguishing tactile hypoesthesia associated with MPS from that with neuropathic pain.

Keywords: Muscle pain; Myofascial pain syndrome; Tactile sensory abnormalities; Touch; Trigger point injection.