Clin J Pain. 2011 Jun 23. [Epub ahead of print],

Effectiveness of a Multidimensional Physical Therapy Program on Pain Pressure Hypersensitivity and Trigger Points in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial.



To evaluate the effects of an 8-week multidimensional physical therapy program, including strengthening exercises and recovery massage, on neck and shoulder pain, pressure hypersensitivity, and the presence of active trigger points (TrPs) in breast cancer survivors.


In this randomized controlled clinical trial, 44 breast cancer survivors were randomly assigned into 2 groups: CUIDATE group who received a multidimensional physical therapy program; or CONTROL group who received usual care treatment for breast cancer. CUIDATE program consisted of 24 hours of individual physical training (aerobic, mobility, stretching, and strengthening exercises) and 12 hours of physical therapy recovery (stretching, massage) interventions (3 times/wk, 90 min). Outcomes included neck and shoulder pain (visual analog scale, 0 to 100), pressure pain thresholds over the C5-C6 zygapophyseal joints, deltoid muscles, second metacarpal and tibialis anterior muscles, and the presence of active TrPs in shoulder muscles. Outcomes were assessed at baseline and after the 8-week program by a blinded assessor.


The CUIDATE group showed an estimated improvement for neck pain of -56 mm [95% confidence interval (CI), -71--40, P<0.001; effect size 2.72, 1.94 to 3.44] and for shoulder/axillary of -56 mm (95% CI, -74--38, P<0.001; effect size 2.45, 1.66 to 3.23). Improvements were also noted for pressure pain thresholds levels: C5-C6 zygapophyseal joints (between-group differences 101 kPa, 95% CI, 60-143; effect size 1.68, 1.00 to 2.35; 92 kPa 55 to 129; d: 1.98, 1.18 to 2.77), deltoid muscles (98 kPa, 45 to 149; d: 1.34, 0.62 to 2.04; 75 kPa 18 to 132; d: 1.12, 0.27 to 1.96), second metacarpal (93 kPa, 45 to 134; d: 1.30, 0.63 to 1.86; 99 kPa 59 to 139; d: 1.60, 0.96 to 2.24), and tibialis anterior muscles (71 kPa, 40 to 144; d: 1.16, 0.65 to 2.34; 118 kPa 57 to 178; d: 1.17, 0.56 to 1.77). Finally, patients within the CUIDATE program showed a greater reduction of active muscle TrPs compared with the CONTROL group (P<0.01).


An 8-week multidimensional program including strengthening exercises, and massage as major components was effective for improving neck and shoulder pain and reducing widespread pressure hyperalgesia in breast cancer survivors compared with usual care treatment.

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