Trigger Points and Trigger Point Therapy
Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy, also known as “Trigger Point Therapy “, refers to the treatment of myofascial trigger points (MTrP) or ‘trigger points’ (TrP) that are found in muscles or fascia. MTrPs are uncomfortable, tender, and tense regions that are found around the body.
History of Trigger Points
The study of muscular pain can be traced to the 15th century. Many terms have been proposed to describe muscle related pain. The most currently acceptable terms are myofascial pain and myofascial trigger points. Dr. Janet Travell, MD (1901-1997) was the first to propose the term myofascial trigger point in 1942. She is an American medical doctor who was also the personal rheumatologist to US president John F. Kennedy. In 1960, Dr. Travell teamed up with Dr. David G. Simons, MD (1922-2010) to further explore the realm of trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome. In 1983, they published their work entitled “Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction – The Trigger Point Manual”. This book was a breakthrough in the world of rheumatology, orthopedics and physiotherapy. It changed the understanding and treatment approach towards chronic pain. Since 1983, thousands of physiotherapists, doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists and other health professionals worldwide have applied trigger point therapy in their practice.
Definition of Myofascial Trigger Points
Clinically, MTrPs are identified as tender areas in a muscle through palpation. These microscopic changes occur in muscle fibers causing them to contract and chronically shorten. This can be due to the overloading or incorrect loading of the muscle. One theory suggests that oxygen and nutrients that are supplied to the trigger point are constantly compromised which leads to a sustained contraction that is unable to resolve itself.
Pain and Myofascial Trigger Points
MTrPs can be a major cause of chronic musculoskeletal pain. This could be due to the fact that trigger points may not be painful until a direct pressure is applied. They may refer pain elsewhere which we term as referred pain. The origin of the pain and the area where it manifests can be different. For example, low back pain may be related to trigger points in the abdominal muscles, while headaches can be related to trigger points in the neck muscles. The referred pain is a characteristic feature of myofascial trigger points.
There are several ways to treat trigger points. Manual Trigger Point Therapy, Dry Needling and the combination of these two techniques, have been shown to be highly effective. Manual Trigger Point Therapy includes specific manipulations to the muscles, fascia and connective tissues. Dry Needling includes the use of sterile disposable acupuncture needles to improve circulation to the affected muscle trigger point areas. This helps to promote healing and reduce pain. The more accurate the treatment is on the affected trigger point, the better the results. Dry needling also affects the descending pain inhibitory system which in turn reduces pain.
The goals of myofascial trigger point therapy:
- improve blood circulation to the trigger zone
- relaxing of the taut band
- release of surrounding fasciae
Is this the right treatment for you?
We offer dry needling or trigger point therapy at Healthworks and it has helped most of our clients for pain relief. In general, it will help you if you have referred pain or muscle aches. Please contact us if you’re not sure if dry needling or trigger point therapy will help you.