Effectiveness of self-myofascial release combined with biofeedback and electrical stimulation for the management of myofascial pelvic pain: A randomized controlled trial

Eur J Pain. 2022 Feb;26(2):405-416. doi: 10.1002/ejp.1867. Epub 2021 Oct 10.


Background: Myofascial pelvic pain (MFPP) caused by myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) is a major contributor to chronic pelvic pain in women. However, the effect of the patient's self-myofascial release (SMFR) is unclear. This study aimed to investigate the effect of SMFR combined with biofeedback and electrical stimulation (BES) therapy in comparison with BES alone in patients with MFPP.

Methods: A prospective randomized controlled study was conducted. Sixty-eight patients were randomly allocated into BES-SMFR group (n = 34) and BES group (n = 34). Every patient received 4 weeks of treatment, evaluated at baseline (T0), 4 weeks post-intervention (T4) and 12-week follow-up (T12). The primary outcome was pain intensity. The secondary outcomes were degree of activation of MTrPs, surface electromyography (sEMG) levels and Patient Global Impression of Improvement (PGI-I).

Results: Compared with the effect of BES, BES-SMFR treatment significantly decreased pain intensity and the degree of activation of MTrPs in the levator ani (p = 0.02) and obturator internus (p = 0.03), as well as the sEMG levels of the pre-test resting baseline and post-test resting baseline (all p < 0.01). The degree of activation of MTrPs in the piriformis and coccygeus (all p > 0.05) and the sEMG levels of the quick flicks and endurance contraction were not significantly different. The BES-SMFR treatment improved the PGI-I scale at T4 (p = 0.02) but not at T12 (p = 0.40).

Conclusions: This study confirmed that the addition of SMFR to BES treatment resulted in superior outcomes compared with those with BES alone in patients with MFPP.

Significance statement: Myofascial pelvic pain (MFPP) is a major contributor of female chronic pelvic pain. Myofascial release has been used commonly for better pain release; however, poor therapeutic effect due to poor patient compliance is common in clinical practice. Therefore, in future research, there is a need to investigate the effect of patient's self-myofascial release (SMFR) technique, which can eliminate the need for frequent office visits and improve patient compliance to some extent, in patients with MFPP.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofeedback, Psychology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Myofascial Release Therapy*
  • Pelvic Pain* / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Trigger Points