Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger points, also commonly referred to as muscle knots, are described as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscles fiber. Pain can radiate from these points of local tenderness to broader areas, sometimes distant from the trigger point itself. Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or a local twitch response.
Activation of trigger points may be caused by a number of factors including acute or chronic muscle overload, disease, emotional stress and tension, postural imbalances, or direct trauma to the region. Trigger points will develop in areas of your body which are under stress. Where there is stress, there is tension, and eventually trigger points will develop if the tension is habitual or sustained over a long period of time.
Trigger points form only in muscles. They form as a local contraction in a small number of muscle fibers. These in turn can pull on tendons and ligaments associated with the muscle and can cause pain deep within a joint where there are no muscles. When trigger points are present in muscles there is often pain, weakness and decreased range of motion.
A successful treatment protocol relies on identifying trigger points, and resolving them. Massage therapists may use muscle stripping techniques, compression over the trigger point, stretching the muscle, and myofascial release techniques to deactivate the trigger point and elongate the affected structures. Another technique that is very effective in deactivating trigger points is called Dry Needling (see Dry Needlingpage), and is an acupuncture technique. The acupuncture needle is inserted directly into the trigger point, usually creating a local twitch response, and then manipulating it until the trigger point has released. Our therapists will also prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises to resolve areas of stress and overload on your muscles. We will also educate you on proper posture alignment and ergonomics, otherwise muscles will simply be returned to positions where trigger points are likely to re-develop.
Adapted from: Travell, Janet; Simons David; Simons Lois (1999). Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual (2 vol. set, 2nd Ed.). USA: Lippincott Williams & Williams. ISBN 0-683-08363-5.