What is Trigger Point Therapy

Myofascial trigger points are an extremely common cause of pain.

"Myofascial" is a word that means muscle tissue and the "myo" refers to the connective tissue surrounding and inside the "fascia." When the muscles gets stressed or injured they form "trigger points," which are like contracted knots that lead to tightness and pain.

Getting to the Point of Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Trigger Points in the Myofascial are an extremely common cause of pain. When pressed on, trigger points can be quite painful, causing a shortening of the muscle fibers, leading to a special property called referred pain. Referred pain means that a trigger point in one muscle can affect or create pain in another area. For example, a shoulder trigger point can refer pain up the side of the neck leading to a headache.

On average, muscles make up between 36-42% of body weight, which is a significant enough amount that these muscles can have a corresponding impact on our health.

When the body’s muscles are in good working order, the muscles will allow us to perform normal activities with ease. When our muscles have built up trigger points, we will experience a loss of normal function, physical limitations, and we experience pain.

When diagnosed with Myofascial Pain Syndrome or Chronic Myofascial Pain, it means that myofascial trigger points are the primary source of your symptoms. Trigger points in this case may actually be causing the painful symptoms that are attributed with these conditions. They are often called "the great mimickers."

Other Diagnoses May Include:

• Headaches
• Rotator Cuff Pain
• Tennis Elbow
• Back Pain
• Neck Pain
• Hand and Arm Pain
• Repetitive Strain Injuries
• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
• Pelvic Pain
• Hip Pain
• Sciatica
• Knee Pain
• Leg Pain
• Tendinitis
• Arthritis
• Bursitis
• Plantar Fascitis
• Frozen Shoulder
• Fibromyalgia
• Disc Pain and Radiculopathy

Oftentimes, the muscles have been an under-treated cause of pain as there is no muscle specialty in medicine, while there is a specialty in nearly every other area of the body, including the heart, the lungs, the eyes, the kidney, the spine, etc. Trigger point or myofascial pain is often over-looked as a possible source of pain by those seeking relief.

The common diagnoses and treatment of myofascial pain has yet to be included in most medical training. Most of the treatments for this type of pain are done with traditional medicine such as using anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, anti–depressants, or with a strength training program. These traditional methods often prove ineffective and are sometimes even detrimental to trigger points as they do not respond to them and might get further aggravated by further straining in a strength training program.

How Are Trigger Points Formed?

Specific damage to muscles and connective tissues can produce trigger points in several ways, including:

• Sustained loading or carrying items for a long period of time, including heavy lifting, carrying boxes, carrying babies, and lifting bedridden patients.
• Repetitive overuse injuries from activities, such as working in a factory environment, typing, using smart phones, and gardening etc.
• Poor posture due to de-conditioning, poorly designed furniture, and a sedentary lifestyle.
• Mental and emotional stress causing muscle clenching and tensing.
• Sustained inactivity such as prolonged bed rest and sitting can develop trigger points.
• Direct injury such as a strain, break, a tear or twist.

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger point therapy involves the applied pressure to these painful, sensitive areas in order to alleviate the pain on site and in other areas of the body. Massage and trigger point therapy are sometimes used together. Active trigger points can theoretically cause muscle pain that transfer or "refers" pain and tenderness in other parts of the body when the trigger point is pressed. A "latent" trigger point is a trigger point that does not produce pain until they are pressed. These latent trigger points are believed to bring about joint stiffness and a loss of range of motion when we age.

Therapists will put pressure on these painful trigger points to relax the muscle and affected tissues. When pressure is applied on the trigger point, it may cause significant discomfort, though it does sometimes produce the odd effect of feeling good at the very same time. You will find that your treatment will benefit from trigger point therapy, helping you move towards pain relief.