To determine the immediate effect of activator trigger point therapy (ATrPT) and myofascial band therapy (MBT) compared to sham ultrasound (SUS) on non-specific neck pain, cervical lateral flexion and pain pressure threshold of upper trapezius trigger points.


Randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial.


Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (AECC) in Bournemouth, England.


Forty-five subjects between 18 and 55 years of age with non-specific neck pain of at least 4 on an 11-point numerical rating scale (NRS), an upper trapezius trigger point (TrP) and decreased cervical lateral flexion to the opposite side of the active upper trapezius TrP were recruited from the AECC student body.


The subjects were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: activator trigger point therapy, myofascial band therapy or sham ultrasound (control group). Neck pain level was determined using a numerical rating scale, degree of lateral flexion (LF) was determined using a cervical range of motion (CROM) goniometer and pain pressure thresholds (PPT) were measured with a pain pressure algometer. All subjects attended one treatment session and outcome measures were repeated within 5 min after treatment.


A one-way ANOVA indicated there was no statistically significant difference between the groups at baseline in age, pain level, lateral cervical flexion or pain pressure threshold ( p > 0.05). For the primary outcome measure of pain reduction the odds of a patient improving with activator trigger point therapy was 7 times higher than a patient treated with myofascial band therapy or sham ultrasound (95% CI:1.23—45.03). The number needed to treat (NNT) with activator trigger point therapy for one patient to improve was 3 (95% CI: 1.4—10.6).


Activator trigger point therapy appears to be more effective than myofascial band therapy or sham ultrasound in treating patients with non-specific neck pain and upper trapezius trigger points.

Clin Chiropr. (2008) 11(1):23-29.

Author information: Blikstad A, Gemmell H. Anglo-European College of Chiropractic, 13-15 Parkwood Road, Bournemouth BH5 2DF, UK.