Abstract ID: 4086

Primary Topic: Manual medicine/body work (including chiropractic and massage)
Secondary Topic: Integrative medicine delivery models
Tertiary Topic: State of the science/evidence base for integrative modalities

Trigger Point Self-Care for Chronic Neck Pain: Pilot Study Results

Late Breaker: Yes


Massage is promising for chronic neck pain (CNP) but accessibility is limited due to out-of-pocket costs. Trigger points contribute to CNP and trigger point self-care (TrPtSc) may be an effective way for massage benefit to reach broad populations. This proof-of-concept/feasibility study sought to examine trigger point self-treatment effect for CNP. 

Methods/Session Format

Non-obese adults with self-reported, nonspecific and uncomplicated CNP were recruited for a three-armed, randomized pre/post trial with 1, 4, and 8 weeks follow-up: 1) training workshop and TrPtSc, 2) four weekly 1-hour individualized practitioner provided massages, or 3) no treatment/control. Three visual analogue scales (VAS) for current, average, and worst neck pain over the past week and three 11-point pain scales for current, best, and worst CNP assessed pain intensity.


Forty-six (n=36 females) adults, aged 19-67 (mean=47.6±12.9) enrolled. Five enrollees (n=1 female) were excluded from analysis due to missing data and early withdrawal resulting in N=41.  Within group analysis indicated improved current and worst pain VAS scores for TrPtSc (p=0.003;0.007, respectively) and massage (p=0.02;0.05, respectively) groups and improved average VAS(p=0.009), current 11-point pain(p=0.02), and best 11-point pain(p=0.018) for the TrPtSc group. TrPtSc improved current 11-point(p=0.029) and VAS pain(p=0.044), worse VAS pain(p=0.049), and best 11-point pain(p=0.004) compared to control at week 8. 


TrPtSc and massage were both effective for CNP after four weeks but only TrPtSc retained benefit and continued to improve at week 8. Fully powered, larger research is needed to confirm trends and determine the extent to which TrPtSc alone or combined with massage contribute to CNP’s long-term management.