Trigger point therapy came about from work carried out by Travel & Simons. (Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual 1983)
Myofascial trigger points are tiny ‘knots’ that can develop in a muscle when injured, overworked or underused. The defining symptom of a trigger point is that they will usually refer pain elsewhere, to some other site on the body. This is the reason conventional treatments of pain can often fail. Treating the place ‘it hurts’ is often an incorrect assumption. Clinical research has shown that trigger points are the primary cause of pain 75% of the time and are , in part, a contributing factor in nearly all pain problems.
Headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, low back pain, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, ear pain, sinus pain and many more can all be the result of trigger point activity.
Add to that list, shoulder, wrist, hip, knee and ankle joint pain that is very often mistaken for arthritis, tendonitis and ligament injury,
And we are not finished there. … dizziness, nausea, heartburn, numbness in the hands and feet… yep… can all be symptoms associated with trigger point activity.
Then there is the issue of emotional stress and how this can bring about persistent contraction in the muscle and the development of trigger points.
To complicate matters somewhat trigger points often cause other trigger points to developed in areas of pain referral. (As can some somatic disorders such as facet joint or disc degeneration).
For example. Back pain can often be as a result of trigger points in the abdominal muscles. Ear pain as a result of trigger point activity in neck muscles know as sternocleidomastoid (SCM). The image below shows typical referral pain from a group of muscles (Scalenes) of the neck.
How do we know where to treat? Well most trigger point referral occur in predictable patterns. Initial trigger point therapy can provide relief in minutes. Most problems van be eliminated in days and even chronic problems can be vastly improved in just a few weeks.
How do trigger points form? Tiny parts of a muscle fibre know are sarcomeres are where contraction occurs. Millions of these sarcomeres contract at any one time to produce movement. Chemical reactions within the body bring about muscle contraction and relaxation. When sarcomeres are over stimulated and fail to release after contraction blood flow is reduced in that area and waste products accumulate. A trigger point may develop that sends out pain signals producing a dull, ill-defined achy type of pain sensation. This is the bodies signal to protect that muscle by not using it. The resting tension of the muscle increases, restricting blood and nutrient flow further and compounding the problem.
Prolonged muscle tension such as this can cause tiredness. (Some clients don’t even realise they have been holding this tension until after it has been released).
Trigger point massage may hurt, although it will be a ‘good hurt’. (It will not be painful). We will work closely, combining trigger point therapy into the massage treatment to ensure the correct outcome.