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Athanasios Trampas, Anastasia Mpeneka, Vivian Malliou, George Godolias and Periklis Vlachakis

Context:

Previous studies showed improved dynamic-balance (DB) performance after core-stability (CS) exercises in populations with chronic low back pain. Although clinical massage plus exercise is likely to better enhance analgesia than exercise alone, its efficacy on balance remains unclear.

Objective:

To evaluate the immediate effects of CS exercises plus myofascial trigger-point (MTrP) therapy in comparison with CS exercises alone on DB performance, pressure-pain threshold (PPT), and cross-sectional area of active MTrPs in patients with clinical instability of the lumbar spine and chronic myofascial pain syndrome.

Design:

Randomized, assessor-blind, test–retest.

Setting:

University research laboratory.

Patients:

10 physically active adults (5 men, 5 women).

Main Outcome Measures:

Single-leg DB performance and side-to-side ratios in 2 planes of motion (frontal, sagittal), as well as PPT and cross-sectional area of active MTrPs, were measured using stabilometry, pressure algometry, and real-time ultrasound scanning, respectively.

Interventions:

The 1st group performed CS exercises alone, whereas the same exercise program was applied in the 2nd group plus cross-fiber friction on active MTrPs (3.5 min/MTrP).

Results:

Within-group statistically and clinically significant differences were observed only for group II in PPT. However, group I also exhibited a large effect size with clinically significant changes from baseline on this outcome. Furthermore, patients in group II clinically improved their balance ratios and differed from group I at posttest in sagittal-plane DB performance of the painful side.

Conclusion:

CS exercises immediately increase the PPT of active MTrPs in physically active adults with clinical instability of the lumbar spine and chronic myofascial pain syndrome. When MTrP therapy is added, side-to-side asymmetries in DB are minimized.