Comparison of the effects between lasers applied to myofascial trigger points and to classical acupoints for patients with cervical myofascial pain syndrome

Biomed J. 2021 Dec;44(6):739-747. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2020 Jun 13.


Background: To compare the immediate effectiveness of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) applied to classical acupoints versus trigger points for patients with cervical myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).

Methods: This was a single-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. This study was performed in a university-affiliated medical center. One hundred participants with cervical myofascial pain syndrome were randomly allocated to four treatment groups, including (1) acupoint therapy (AcuT), (2) acupoint control (AcuC), (3) trigger point therapy (TriT), and (4) trigger point control (TriC) groups. Low-level laser (810-nm) therapy was used in both therapy groups, while the same procedure was performed without laser in the acupoint control groups. The patients were evaluated based on visual analogue scale (VAS) pain score, pressure pain threshold, and cervical range of motion (ROM) before and after the therapy.

Results: Immediate pain relief was observed in the TriT group (p < 0.01). The TriT group showed improved cervical ROM in ipsilateral bending (p < 0.01), while the AcuT group did not.

Conclusions: LLLT applied to trigger points could significantly relieve myofascial pain and was effective in relieving cervical ROM limitations. Considering the risk of pneumothorax, laser therapy at trigger points for patients with cervical MPS may be a choice when acupuncture therapy is unavailable.

Trial registration: ID: NCT01516502.

Keywords: Acupoint; Laser therapy; Low level laser therapy; Myofascial pain syndrome; Range of motion; Trigger point.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points
  • Humans
  • Lasers
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes* / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trigger Points*

Associated data