Pressure Pain Threshold in Subjects With Piriformis Syndrome: Test-Retest, Intrarater, and Interrater Reliability, and Minimal Detectible Changes

Published:December 07, 2019DOI:



      This study aimed to assess the test-retest, intrarater, and interrater reliability of using the pressure pain threshold (PPT) in healthy and affected piriformis muscles and to estimate its absolute reliability. As a secondary objective, the degree of tenderness of the affected piriformis muscles was compared with healthy piriformis muscles.

      Study Design

      This study used a comparative and reliability-based design.


      Rehabilitation clinic.


      Patients (N=30) with unilateral piriformis muscle syndrome (30 affected and 30 healthy piriformis muscles) were recruited, and the PPT of both the healthy and affected piriformis muscles was recorded using digital algometry. Measurements of PPT were done by 2 raters (rater 1 and 2), which were selected at random order. Rater 1 repeated the PPT measurements 24-72 hours after initial assessment.


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measure



      Excellent intrarater intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) values were observed for the PPT of the affected piriformis (ICC: 0.86-0.96) and the healthy piriformis (ICC: 0.88-0.96) in the same session. The PPT measurements using digital algometry showed good-to-excellent interrater reliability (ICC: 0.64-0.92) and test-retest reliability (ICC: 0.72-0.95) in both the healthy and affected piriformis muscles. The findings revealed a significant decrease in the PPT of the affected piriformis muscle in comparison to the healthy piriformis muscle (mean difference 12.76; 95% confidence interval, 15.69-9.82; P<.001).


      Digital algometry is a reliable tool for measuring piriformis PPT, regardless of the testing session and the rater. Patients with unilateral piriformis muscle syndrome have increased tenderness and decreased PPT in the affected piriformis muscle in comparison to the healthy piriformis muscle.


      List of abbreviations:

      CI (confidence interval), ICC (intraclass correlation coefficient), MDC (minimum detectable change), PMS (piriformis muscle syndrome), PPT (pressure pain threshold)
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