The myofascial component of the pain in the painful shoulder of the hemiplegic patient
OBJECTIVES: Poststroke shoulder pain occurs very frequently and compromises function and quality of life. Because treatment depends on a multidisciplinary approach, it is desirable to optimize effectiveness. Myofascial pain syndrome is defined by the presence of trigger points that can also be found in spastic stroke patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate the frequency of myofascial pain in the shoulder girdle muscles in patients with poststroke shoulder pain and to document the clinical and functional results obtained with specific treatment for this condition. METHODS: Spastic stroke hemiplegic patients undergoing rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Center of the Hospital das Clı´nicas of the Ribeira˜o Preto Medical School of the University of Sa˜o Paulo were evaluated regarding the intensity and characteristics of shoulder pain, previous therapeutic interventions, shoulder goniometry and the presence of trigger points. Patients underwent trigger point blockade by intramuscular infiltration of 1% lidocaine. The evaluation and treatment procedures were repeated in the subsequent 3 weeks as long as the pain intensity was greater than 5 on a visual analog scale (VAS). In the fourth week, the evaluation procedures were repeated. Patients who were in a multiprofessional rehabilitation program were instructed to continue the treatment, and the others received complementary therapeutic advice if necessary to initiate it. The evaluations were performed at 0, 1, and 3 weeks and after 4 months. RESULTS: Twenty-one patients (13 men; age=67.8±10.2 years; right hemiparesis: 11) participated in the study, and there was a reduction in pain assessed by VAS from baseline (7.6±2.7) to the first week (5.8±3.6; po0.05) through the end of the third week (5.2±3.5; po0.05), but not at the end of four months (6.6±2.9; p=0.11). Good responders had significantly lower pain levels after the third week and presented with a larger range of motion for passive abduction by the end of 4 months. These results demonstrate that the myofascial component of pain should be considered in poststroke shoulder pain and that its treatment may be a pathway for the rapid and long-lasting relief of symptoms. CONCLUSION: Trigger point blockade with lidocaine can reduce pain perception in spastic hemiplegic shoulder in as much as 50% of stroke survivors for four months.