Reliability of trigger points evaluation in the lower leg muscles

Evgeni Rozenfeld, Asia Strinkovsky, Aharon S Finestone, Leonid Kalichman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Myofascial trigger point diagnosis is a clinical palpatory skill dependent on the patient's subjective response. The inter- and intra-rater reliability of trigger point physical evaluation in the lower leg muscles has rarely been reported. Previous reliability studies suffered from the Kappa paradox.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the inter- and intra-rater reliability of trigger point recognition in the lower leg muscles implying a specific method to overcome the 1st Kappa paradox.

DESIGN: A reliability study with pre-second examiner exclusion to correct prevalence index.

SETTING: Physical therapy outpatient clinic, Beer-Sheva, Israel.

SUBJECTS: 86 soldiers aged 18-30 referred for physical therapy with a diagnosis of musculoskeletal pain consented to take part in this study. 26 were excluded for lacking trigger points, leaving 60 subjects for analysis (31 women, 29 men).

METHODS: Both legs were evaluated, and the results were analyzed separately for symptomatic (N = 87) and asymptomatic legs (N = 31).Each subject was evaluated three times, twice by one examiner, and once by a second examiner. Dichotomous findings including palpable taut-band, tenderness, referred pain, and relevance of referred pain were recorded.

RESULTS: Inter-rater reliability for active trigger points ranged from 0.49 to 0.75 (median: 0.52) and intra-rater reliability ranged from 0.41 to 0.84 (median: 0.65) and. For total trigger points intra-rater reliability ranged from 0.52 to 0.79 (median: 0.67), and inter-rater reliability ranged from 0.44 to 0.77 (median: 0.66).

CONCLUSIONS: Physical examination is a reliable method of trigger point evaluation in lower leg muscles, and it can be used as a diagnostic method for trigger point evaluation.

Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)2283-2289
Number of pages7
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021


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