What is Trigger Point Therapy?
Trigger point therapy is also called myofascial trigger point. A technique involves the applying of pressure to muscle
tissue in order to relieve pain and dysfunction in other parts of the body. During this type of therapy, the massage and
trigger point therapy are performed together. It is a subset of neuromuscular therapy, which examines and treats
muscles and muscle attachments in layers from superficial to deep, ligaments and connective tissues.
Trigger point massage is not a relaxing, "fluff and buff" technique. It requires the participation of the client to
communicate the presence and intensity of pain and discomfort. The therapist and client work together as a team to
maximize the effectiveness of the treatment.
It is said to interrupt the neural signals that cause both the trigger point and the pain. The object is to eliminate pain
and to reeducate the muscles into pain-free habits. In this manner, the swelling and stiffness of neuromuscular pain is
reduced, range of motion is increased, and flexibility and coordination are improved. The therapy can also relieve tension
and improve circulation. Once the point is found, the therapist will apply sustained pressure using the fingers, knuckles,
or elbows for several seconds.
What are Trigger Points?
Trigger points are areas of tenderness in a muscle. There are two basic types of trigger points: active and latent.
Active trigger points cause muscular pain and will refer pain and tenderness to another area of the body when pressure is
Latent trigger points only exhibit pain when compressed. It does not refer pain to other areas of the body. Latent
trigger points are believed to be one of the causes of stiff joints and restricted range of motion of old age. The points
wait silently in the muscle for a future stress to activate them. Aches and pains which began in the past become more
frequent and severe in intensity as we age. It is common to attribute this discomfort to arthritis instead of our tight
muscles which harbor trigger points.
Trigger points may be associated with myofascial pain syndromes or fibromyalgia. Trigger points are very common. They
are also referred to as muscle knots.
Trigger points differ from acupressure points. Acupressure points are concentrations of energy or blockages of the body's
energy pathways. Trigger points can be felt by touch.
What Causes Trigger Points?
Trigger points are accumulations of waste products around a nerve receptor. Often times they feel like nodules or taut
bands of fibers within the soft tissues.
Trigger points form in muscles that have been overused or injured due to an accident or surgery. Some common causes of
trigger points are birth trauma, an injury sustained in a fall or accident, poor posture, or overexertion.
Common characteristics are increased muscle tension and muscle shortening. Increased muscle tension is the primary side
effect of trigger points and pain is the most common secondary effect.
Trigger points can present themselves as referred patterns of sensation such as sharp pain, dull ache, tingling, pins and
needles, hot or cold, as well as can create symptoms such as nausea, earache, equilibrium disturbance, or blurred vision.
When trigger points are not treated, they will create satellite trigger points in the affected area. For instance, a trigger
point in the trapezes may cause a trigger point to appear in the temple. The trigger point in the temple then may cause
a trigger point to appear in the jaw.
Conditions that can benefit from Trigger Point Therapy
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Muscle spasms
- Postoperative pain
- Whiplash injuries
- Neck stiffness
- Tennis elbow
- Frozen shoulder
- Back pain
What is the Purpose of Trigger Point Therapy?
The purpose of trigger point therapy is to eliminate pain and to re-educate the muscles into pain-free habits. After
several treatments, the swelling and stiffness of neuromuscular pain is reduced, range of motion is increased, tension is
relieved, and circulation, flexibility and coordination are improved.
To diffuse a trigger point, static compression (pressure) is applied for 10 seconds, released, then pressure applied for 10
more seconds in a pumping action while the client breathes deeply. This action flushes the toxins and calms the nerves.
Releasing trigger points releases endorphins so the result is elimination of discomfort as well as being energized.
What to expect after the first treatment
It is common to find great improvement after one treatment. Repeated treatment may be necessary for those with
chronic trigger points. Stretching should be done as "home work" to encourage the muscles that have been treated to
stay in a lengthened position.
Clients may experience muscle soreness for several days after a trigger point therapy session, and should stretch
frequently to prevent
Persons with infectious diseases, open sores, or recent injuries should wait until they have recovered before beginning
trigger point therapy.
Persons taking anticoagulant prescription drugs may experience bruising after trigger point therapy muscles from