Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger Point TherapyNeuromuscular Therapy, better known as Trigger Point Therapy, is the manipulation and compression of a “trigger point” which is essentially not getting blood or oxygen (eschemic) and therefore cannot filter out things like lactic acid and other metabolic wastes that our bodies naturally produce.

This over-abundance of toxins help to create something called a nidus- almost like a grain of sand- which forms under the tissue and irritates the muscle keeping it tense/activated. A great metaphor for this would be the age-old story of the Princess and the pea.

Trigger Point Therapy Defined

Trigger Point Therapy is described as hyper-irritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. Trigger point practitioners believe that palpable nodules are small contraction knots and a common cause of pain.

Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or local twitch response. The local twitch response is not the same as a muscle spasm. This is because a muscle spasm refers to the entire muscle contracting, whereas the local twitch response also refers to the entire muscle, but only involves a small twitch, no contraction.

The trigger point model states that unexplained pain frequently radiates from these points of local tenderness to broader areas, sometimes distant from the trigger point itself. Practitioners have identified reliable referred pain patterns, allowing practitioners to associate pain in one location with trigger points elsewhere.

Trigger points can exist in two states, either active or latent. Active trigger points are those which cause discomfort. Latent trigger 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.

Trigger point therapy uses static compression to flush toxins and increase circulation. It is important for the client to participate by communicating the intensity of pain and discomfort. We will work together in order to maximize the effectiveness of treatment.

Trigger points work in much the same way as that pesky pea that the Princess would feel under her mattress. Upon continued pressure, the trigger point will most likely refer- it will be felt in another location as it follows an already established pain pathway (ever had tension headaches?) however with evenly applied pressure the therapist brings oxygenated blood to the tissue and pushes the toxins out as the pain threshold drops. Often the use of tbars (see picture ) can be used to apply deeper and more even pressure. Trigger points can be the culprit for a multitude of tight and tender spots in the body.  Neuromuscular Therapy, in tandem with a good self-care regimen and adequate water intake, has the potential to remedy chronic tension for many people.

Trigger Point Therapy: What are Trigger Points?

A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. A trigger point in the back, for example, may reduce referral pain in the neck. The neck, now acting as a satellite trigger point, may then cause pain in the head. The pain may be sharp and intense or a dull ache.

Trigger point massage therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release. In this type of massage for trigger point therapy, the recipient actively participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort.

The results and benefits of trigger point massage are releasing constricted areas in the muscles thus alleviating pain. You can experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment. Receiving massage with trigger point therapy on a regular basis can help naturally manage pain and stress from chronic injuries.

Trigger point therapy isn’t “too good to be true” — it’s just ordinary good. It’s certainly not miraculous or a cure for all pain. Good trigger point therapy is hard to find (or even define), and it doesn’t always work.  But it’s also generally under-rated, and self-treatment has the potential to quickly, cheaply and safely help with many common pain problems that don’t respond well — or at all — to anything else.

For beginners with average muscle pain — a typical case of nagging hip pain or back pain or neck pain — the advice given here may well seem almost miraculously useful. I get avalanches of email from readers thanking me for pointing out simple treatment options for such irritating problems. Many are stunned by the discovery that their chronic pain could have been treated easily all along.

For veterans who have already tried — and failed — to treat trigger points, this document is especially made for you. You need more advanced methods before giving up. This will get you as close to a cure as you can get; I can give you a fighting chance of at least reducing your pain more than ever before. And maybe that is a bit of a miracle.

What exactly are muscle knots?

When you say that you have “muscle knots,” you are talking about myofascial trigger points.

There are no actual knots involved, of course. Although their true nature is uncertain, the dominant theory is that a trigger point (TrP) is a small patch of tightly contracted muscle, an isolated spasm affecting just a small patch of muscle tissue (not a whole-muscle spasm like a “charlie horse” or cramp. That small patch of knotted muscle cuts off its own blood supply, which irritates it even more — a vicious cycle called “metabolic crisis.” The swampy metabolic situation is why I sometimes also call it “sick muscle syndrome.”

A collection of too many nasty trigger points is called myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).

Individual TrPs and MPS can cause a shocking amount of discomfort — far more than most people believe is possible — as well as some surprising side effects. Its bark is much louder than its bite, but the bark can be extremely loud. More about worst case scenarios below.