Evaluation of Myofascial Trigger Points Using Infrared Thermography: A Critical Review of the Literature

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Abstract

Objective:

The aim of this study was to review recent studies published on the use of infrared thermography for the assessment of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs).

Methods:

A search of the MEDLINE, CINAHL, PEDro, and SciELO databases was carried out between November 2012 and January 2013 for articles published in English, Portuguese, or Spanish from the year 2000 to 2012. Because of the nature of the included studies and the purpose of this review, the analysis of methodological quality was assessed using the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies tool.

Results:

The search retrieved 11 articles, 2 of which were excluded based on language (German and Chinese). Three were duplicated in different databases, 1 did not use infrared thermography for diagnostic purposes, and the other did not use infrared thermography to measure the skin temperature. Thus, the final sample was made up of 4 observational investigations: 3 comparative studies and 1 accuracy study.

Conclusion:

At present, there are few studies evaluating the accuracy and reliability of infrared thermography for the diagnosis and assessment of MTrPs. Of the few studies present, there is no agreement on skin temperature patterns in the presence of MTrPs.

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