Physicians and RMTs

A Cross-Sectional Survey of Physicians and Registered Massage Therapists Regarding Myofascial Pain Syndrome Diagnostic Criteria

Author 1 Alasdair Rathbone H.BSc.Kin., Author 2 Liza Grosman-Rimon PhD, Author 3 Dinesh Kumbhare MD MSc

Institutional Affiliations

Author 1 University of Western Ontario, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Authors 2 & 3 University of Toronto, Department of Medicine Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network


Myofascial pain syndrome is a common pain disorder treated by numerous specialties and allied health professions. Previous surveys (e.g. Rivers et al., 2015) indicate different opinions on diagnostic criteria between different specialties. We wish to examine whether these differences also exist inter-professionally.


A survey of massage therapists regarding myofascial pain syndrome, where diagnostic criteria was collected and compared to previously collected results of Canadian physicians.


Registered massage therapists and physicians practicing in Canada.


48 massage therapists and 119 physicians.


A survey consisting of 7 correct diagnostic criteria and 7 easily confused diagnostic criteria (7-point Likert Scale).

Outcome Measures

Differences in opinions on each diagnostic criterion were calculated using Kruskal-Wallis tests. Opinions were compared to the original definition of myofascial pain and evaluated for mean error and proportion of correct answers (a=0.05).


Physicians rated point tenderness in a taut band of muscle, presence of local twitch response, referred pain, pain reproduction, restricted range of motion, weakness without atrophy, and autonomic symptoms less than and poor sleep more than massage therapists. Physicians rated point tenderness at the musculotendinous junction, weakness with atrophy, lack of restricted range of motion, daytime fatigue and cognitive symptoms equally. The mean error of massage therapists (2.37 vs 2.69 points, p<.001) and proportion correct (p<.001) were less.


Significant differences between physicians and massage therapists exist in opinions on diagnostic criteria of myofascial pain syndrome. Future studies should expand these comparisons to include other allied health professions.

parallax background

Join Our Community Today

1-866-523-3615Book Now