RESEARCH ARTICLE


Is Infrared Thermography Reliable to Assess Pain in the Trapezius Muscle Region?



Talita Leite dos Santos Moraes1, Luma Soares Lustosa1, Larissa Moura Santos Ramos1, Sabrina Mondadori Boaretto1, Dihogo Gama de Matos2, Jader Farias Pereira Neto3, Eduardo Borba Neves4, Heleodório Honorato dos Santos5, Felipe J. Aidar1, 2, 6, 7, *, Walderi Monteiro da Silva Junior7
1 Graduate Program in Physical Education, Federal University of Sergipe, São Cristovão, Brazil
2 Group of Studies and Research of Performance, Sport, Health and Paralympic Sports -GEPEPS, Federal University of Sergipe, São Cristovão, Sergipe, Brazil
3 Department of Physiotherapy, Federal University of Sergipe, São Cristovão, Sergipe, Brazil
4 Brazilian Army Research Institute of Physical Fitness (IPCFEx), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
5 Department of Physiotherapy, Federal University of Paraiba, João Pessoa, Brazil
6 Graduate Program in Physiological Sciences, Federal University of Sergipe, São Cristóvão, Brazil
7 Department of Physical Education, Federal University of Sergipe, São Cristóvão, Sergipe, Brazil


© 2021 dos Santos Moraes et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Graduation Program in Physical Education, Federal University of Sergipe, São Cristovão, Brazil; E-mail: fjaidar@gmail.com


Abstract

Objective:

The aim of this study was to evaluate the inter- and intra-examiner reliability of infrared thermography (IT) in skin temperature analysis of people with pain complaints in the upper trapezius muscle.

Methods:

A total of 82 subjects (24.8 ± 6.9 years; 63.8 ± 13.1 kg) of both genders who had moderate (VAS-3) or severe pain in the upper trapezius muscle were evaluated. Skin temperatures of four areas (ROIs) were analyzed by IT using a FLIR camera (model T640SC - Sweden). Each evaluator performed two area analyses at different times.

Results:

The evaluation of the four areas indicated a very strong overall intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) for both intra-examiner (Examiner 1: ICC = 0.936; 95% CI = 0.905–0.959; P < 0.001; Examiner 2: ICC = 0.979; 95% CI = 0.968–0.987; P < 0.001) and inter-examiner (Measurement 1: ICC = 0.933; 95% CI = 0.902–0.958; P < 0.001; Measurement 2: ICC = 0.979; 95% CI = 0.968–0.987; P < 0.001). The ICC was regular on ROI 3 in the measurement 1 inter-exam test, and the ROI 1, ROI 2, and ROI 4 values were strong; all points were very strong in measurement 2. The ICC was rated from strong to very strong for both examiners in the intra-examiner test at all points.

Conclusion:

IT was reproducible in measuring the upper trapezius muscle skin temperature, and the intra and inter-examiner agreement levels can be used as a reliable tool in clinical practice.

Keywords: Rehabilitation, Skin temperature, Diagnostic imaging, Myofascial Pain Syndromes, FLIR camera, Upper trapezius muscle skin.