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Trigger Point Manual Therapy for the Treatment of Chronic Noncancer Pain in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

      Abstract

      Objective

      To determine the effectiveness of trigger point manual therapy (TPMT) for reducing chronic noncancer pain and associated problems in adults, by analyzing all relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

      Data Sources

      We searched databases and clinical trials registers from their inception to May 2017.

      Study Selection

      We included RCTs in any language that recruited patients older than 18, with pain of 3 months’ duration or more. We assessed pain, function, and patient-reported improvement as outcomes.

      Data Extraction

      Two authors independently extracted and verified data. Meta-analysis was completed where possible, otherwise data were synthesized narratively.

      Data Synthesis

      We combined all data using a random-effects model and assessed the quality of evidence using GRADE. A total of 19 trials (involving 1047 participants) met inclusion criteria, representing TPMT treatment of musculoskeletal, pelvic, and facial pain. No effect was found for short-term pain relief (mean standardized difference −0.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], −1.08 to 0.02). One small study showed a longer-term benefit for pain (mean standardized difference −2.00; 95% CI, −3.40 to −0.60) but with low confidence in the effect. Significant gains emerged for function (mean standardized difference −0.77; 95% CI, −1.27 to −0.26) and in patient global response (odds ratio 3.79; 95% CI, 1.86-7.71) from 4 studies, but not for health-related quality of life.

      Conclusions

      Evidence for TPMT for chronic noncancer pain is weak and it cannot currently be recommended.

      Keywords

      List of abbreviations:

      CI (confidence interval), HRQOL (health-related quality of life), MPS (myofascial pain syndrome), OR (odds ratio), RCT (randomized controlled trial), SMD (standardized mean difference), TPMT (trigger point manual therapy), TrP (trigger point)
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