Effects of Repeated Injection of 1% Lidocaine vs. Radial Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy for Treating Myofascial Trigger Points: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Medicina (Kaunas). 2022 Mar 26;58(4):479. doi: 10.3390/medicina58040479.


Background and Objectives: This study tested the hypothesis that treatment of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) in the upper trapezius muscle (UTM) with repeated injection of 1% lidocaine results in better alleviation of muscular stiffness and soreness as well as improved metabolism in the hypercontracted MTrP area than treatment with radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy (rESWT). Materials and Methods: A single-blinded, prospective, randomized controlled trial was conducted on patients suffering from MTrPs in the UTM. Thirty patients were treated with repeated injection of 2 mL of 1% lidocaine (three injections; one injection per week). Another 30 patients were treated with rESWT (three treatment sessions; one treatment session per week; 2000 radial extracorporeal shock waves per treatment session; positive energy flux density = 0.10 mJ/mm2). The primary outcome measure was pain severity using the VAS score. The secondary outcome measures included muscle elasticity index, pressure pain threshold and neck disability index. Evaluation was performed at baseline (T1), 15−30 min after the first treatment in order to register immediate treatment effects (T2), before the second treatment (i.e., one week after baseline) (T3) and one week after the third treatment (i.e., four weeks after baseline) (T4). Results: There were no statistically significant differences in the primary and secondary outcome measures between the patients in the lidocaine arm and the patients in the rESWT arm at T1 and T4. Within the arms, the mean differences of all outcomes were statistically significant (p < 0.001) when comparing the data obtained at T1 with the data obtained at T3 and the data obtained at T4. Conclusions: The results of this pilot study suggest that the use of rESWT in patients with MTrPs in the UTM is safe and leads to reduced pain and improved muscle elasticity, pressure pain threshold and neck disability index, without adverse effects. Larger trials are necessary to verify this. Clinicians should consider rESWT instead of injections of lidocaine in the treatment of MTrPs in the UTM.

Keywords: elasticity index; lidocaine; myofascial trigger points; pressure pain threshold; rESWT; radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy; upper trapezius muscle.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy* / methods
  • Humans
  • Lidocaine / therapeutic use
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trigger Points


  • Lidocaine