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01.12.2017 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BioPsychoSocial Medicine 1/2017

Relationship between Alexithymia and latent trigger points in the upper Trapezius

BioPsychoSocial Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2017
Hideaki Hasuo, Kenji Kanbara, Tetsuya Abe, Mikihiko Fukunaga, Naoko Yunoki



Latent trigger points (LTrPs) can be activated by future events, leading to pain. Few studies have reported LTrP risk factors. It has been suggested that alexithymia is associated with myofascial pain and diminished awareness of physical sensation. This study was designed to evaluate the relation between alexithymia and LTrPs found the upper trapezius of healthy individuals.


The correlation between LTrPs and alexithymia, and between LTrPs and depression was analyzed in 160 healthy participants (80 male, mean age: 40.5 years [20 to 66 years]). Each participant was evaluated for potential LTrPs by careful manual examination and completed the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) to assess potential alexithymia and depressive symptoms, respectively.


LTrPs were observed in the upper trapezius of 76 participants (47.5%). TAS-20 scores were significantly higher in subjects with LTrPs than without LTrPs (p < 0.001); in contrast, there was no significant BDI score difference between these groups (p = 0.451). The LTrP risk for alexithymia was 2.74 (95% confidence interval [95% CI]: 2.10–3.58). There was no correlation between the TAS-20 and BDI scores (correlation coefficient: −0.04). Significant risk factors associated with LTrPs included the TAS-20 score (odds ratio [OR]: 1.11, 95% CI: 1.07–1.15) and age (OR: 1.05, 95% CI: 1.01–1.09).


Alexithymia was associated with LTrPs in the upper trapezius of healthy individuals, suggesting that it may serve as a useful predictive factor.

Trial registration

UMIN000027468. Registered 23 May 2017(retrospectively registered).
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