Objectives To clarify changes in the cardiovascular autonomic nervous system function due to trigger point acupuncture, we evaluated differences in responses between acupuncture at trigger points and those at other sites using spectral analysis of heart rate variability.
Methods Subjects were 35 healthy men. Before measurements began the subjects were assigned to a trigger point acupuncture or control group based on the presence/absence of referred pain on applying pressure to a taut band within the right tibialis anterior muscle. The measurements were conducted in a room with a temperature of 25°C, with subjects in a long sitting position after 10 min rest. Acupuncture needles were retained for 10 min at two sites on the right tibialis anterior muscle. ECG was performed simultaneously with measurements of blood pressure and the respiratory cycle. Based on the R–R interval on the ECG, frequency analysis was performed, low-frequency (LF) and high-frequency (HF) components were extracted and the ratio of LF to HF components (LF/HF) was evaluated.
Results The trigger point acupuncture group showed a transient decrease in heart rate and an increase in the HF component but no significant changes in LF/HF. In the control group, no significant changes were observed in heart rate, the HF component or LF/HF. There were no consistent changes in systolic or diastolic blood pressure in either group.
Conclusions These data suggest that acupuncture stimulation of trigger points of the tibialis anterior muscle transiently increases parasympathetic nerve activity.
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