Trigger Point Therapy

You may not have heard of trigger points, as they are seldom treated by your practitioner. Yet they are believed to cause almost 75% of your pain, as was discovered by the research from Travell and Simons in the 1940's.

Trigger points are localized spasm of muscle fibers, usually around where the nerve attaches to the muscle. They form after the muscle is in a state of tension over a period of time.

Trigger points will keep the muscles tight, restricting blood flow and compressing nerves, causing a vicious pain/spasm cycle in the muscles. This may result in decreased flexibility, limited movement and will encourage bad postural patterns that may continue the cycle for years.

What causes trigger points?

Trigger points are created in many ways, from injuries or falls, where the muscle is directly injured. Even prolonged postures at work will overload the muscle and cause the formation of these points.

Every day you place strain on your muscles, if the tension remains, then trigger points may form. You stress levels are a factor too, stress causes muscle tension, as will many dietary factors and other general health issues.

How do trigger points cause pain?

Trigger points can be latent meaning you notice no pain at all until some applies trigger point therapy, or you have a massage. Latent trigger points will cause joint stiffness and tightness.

Active trigger points are both painful and refer pain way from the site. The pain occurs as the nerve attachment is irritated which cause pain locally and can refer pain. The constriction in blood supply will cause toxins to accumulate in the area, creating pain and stiffness.

Where are trigger points located?

Trigger points are usually found at the innervation point of the muscle, this is where the nerve attaches to the muscle itself. Although you can get secondary trigger points in the muscle belly.

Travell and Simons mapped the trigger points on the body. As each trigger point refers pain elsewhere, it is very easy to identify the location by seeing where your pain is located.

Trigger point therapy relies heavily on palpating the muscle and locating the tight tender knotted fibers, and looking for a "jump sign". This jump sign is you literally jumping as the points can be very tender. Mapping is an easy and painless way to identify them.

What is Trigger Point Therapy?

Trigger point therapy is the process of systematically releasing trigger points. Pressure is exerted on the trigger point for 20 seconds, which breaks down the point. You then gently massage the area and stretch the muscle to make sure the muscle relaxes.

Treatment can be applied by practitioners (if you can find one treating trigger points) or used at home with various devices or simply a tennis ball.

Although trigger points are easy to release, preventing them from returning requires a bit more time and effort. The trigger points commonly repeat, hence it is best to support trigger point therapy with Acupressure techniques and even nutrition to help prevent the recurrences.

Releasing trigger points can give you almost instant pain relief if applied correctly. Once released, you will notice more flexibility in your joints and muscles, along with greater strength.

An approach that makes sense

Dr Simons was quoted as saying - "There is no substitute for learning to control your own musculoskeletal pain. Treating myofascial trigger points yourself addresses the source of that kind of common pain and is not just a way of temporarily relieving it."

Basically he was saying that the best method to treat trigger points was the self application of trigger point therapy. Daily use will help release these points and help ease your pain.

With the aid of trigger point maps, you can locate the trigger points easily, which at times can be as small as a seed. Once located, using digital pressure on the point is enough to release them quickly. Then as long as you support the therapy with other simple corrective techniques you can be pain free quickly.

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Here are some related web pages of interest:

Trigger Point Release

Spinal Balancing

Inversion Therapy

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