Proximal myofascial pain in patients with distal complex regional pain syndrome of the upper limb

Adi Dor, Jean Jacques Vatine, Leonid Kalichman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Patients suffering from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) endure myofascial-related pain in at least 50% of cases. Aims: To evaluate the association of upper limb CRPS with myofascial pain in muscles that might influence arm or hand pain, and to evaluate whether the paraspinal skin and subcutaneous layers’ tenderness and allodynia are associated with CRPS. Methods: A case-control study comprising 20 patients presenting with upper limb CRPS, and 20 healthy controls matched for sex and age, were evaluated in the thoracic paraspinal area and myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) (infraspinatus, rhomboids, subclavius, serratus posterior superior and pectoralis minor) via a skin rolling test. Results: The prevalence of MTrPs in the affected extremity of the subjects was significantly higher than in the right limb of the controls: 45% exhibited active and latent MTrPs in the infraspinatus muscle (χ2 = 11.613, p = 0.001); 60% in active and latent MTrPs in the subclavius muscle (χ2 = 17.143, p < 0.001); and in the pectoralis minor muscle (χ2 = 13.786, p < 0.001). In addition, 55% of the cases exhibited active and latent MTrPs in the serratus posterior superior muscle (χ2 = 15.172, p < 0.001). Significant differences between the groups in skin texture and pain levels (p = 0.01, p < 0.001, respectively) demonstrated that CRPS patients felt more pain, and their skin and subcutaneous layers were much tighter than in the healthy controls. Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of MTrPs in the shoulder and upper thoracic area muscles in subjects who suffer from CRPS. We recommend adding an MTrPs evaluation to the standardized examination of these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-554
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Myofascial pain
  • Thorax
  • Trigger points


Dive into the research topics of 'Proximal myofascial pain in patients with distal complex regional pain syndrome of the upper limb'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this