Myofascial Component of Cancer Pain Review

Leonid Kalichman, Itay Menahem, Iuly Treger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Pain is a common complaint of cancer patients, experienced by 38%–85% of patients. Some studies have shown a high incidence of myofascial pain syndrome (MPS)in cancer patients. Aims: 1)To estimate the prevalence of MPS in cancer patients; 2)to examine the efficacy of current treatment options for MPS in cancer patients. Methods: Narrative review. PubMed, CINAHL, PEDro, and Google Scholar databases were searched from inception until November 2017, for the keywords: cancer; cancer pain; breast cancer; mastectomy; lumpectomy; myofascial pain; trigger points. Trials of any methodological quality were included. All published material with an emphasis on randomized control trials was analyzed. Results: MPS is prevalent in cancer patients who suffer from pain, with a prevalence of between 11.9% and 44.8% in those diagnosed either with neck or head or breast cancer. Clinical studies showed conflicting results. Four interventional studies found that specific treatment for MPS may reduce the prevalence of active myofascial trigger points and therefore decrease pain level, sensitivity, and improve range of motion (in shoulder)in cancer patients. Two recent randomized control trials showed that pressure release of trigger points provides no additional beneficial effects to a standard physical therapy program for upper limb pain and function after breast cancer surgery. Conclusions: We recommend including the evaluation of myofascial pain in routine clinical examination of cancer patients suffering from pain. Future studies are needed to investigate the long- and short-term effect of MPS treatments in cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-315
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • Cancer
  • Myofascial pain
  • Myofascial release
  • Myofascial trigger points
  • Pain
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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