Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger Point Therapy is a tool in my treatment toolbox that I use often with helping to relieve pain symptoms that the client is experiencing. They can vary from localized pain of taut bands of muscles that can occur throughout the body from feet to the top of the head. They can also exist with symptoms like jaw pain, neck pain, headaches, pain down the arm or leg or into the hips. They occur where there is a taut band in a portion of a muscle. There is debate as to the actual physiology behind trigger points but the symptoms or undeniable. These taut bands (trigger points) in hypothesis occur when the muscle tightens/ shortens due to fatigue or being put into a shortened position for an extended period of time, trauma, dysfunction of a nearby joint that it is involved in movement or stabilization of including anything from foot, knee, hip, spine, shoulder, elbow or hand. Often it will produce a vague, dull achiness, which can help to differentiate is from a nerve related pain. When there is pain down the arm or leg, it can often be misdiagnosed as a nerve related pain but special assessment can be done to determine if it is nerve or trigger point related. The tricky thing is that the trigger point can refer pain to another area, making it seem that there is a dysfunction in that distal area. For example, the outside of the thigh muscles can refer deep achiness right into the knee. The rotator cuff muscle trigger points can refer down the arm to the hand. Neck muscles can produce head aches in different areas of the head by different neck muscles.

Each person experiences a reduction of symptoms in different ways so there is no one way to relieve a trigger point. In addition to releasing the trigger point, it is important to determine why that muscle, or portion of the muscle is tightening and help educate the client to avoid a reoccurrence in the future. Writing this entry reminds me of trigger points that can occur in the upper back and neck that can produce head aches. We are in a society that is spending a lot of time in a slight forward slouched upper back and head forward position and the end result is that the muscle in the back of the upper back and neck just get tired. Our heads are heavy and produce a greater force the more forward they are. Good upper body and head position is important as it dramatically reduces the exertion put on the upper back and neck muscles. It is part of the posture and movement pattern re-education that I teach in treatment so that a client can be empowered to make posture/ movement changes when the symptoms of trigger points occur (in addition to others). It’s about treating the symptoms, finding the cause and helping the client to make movement/ postural changes to avoid reoccurrence in the future.

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