Do you suffer from painful “knots” in your back or shoulders? Ever wondered if there’s something you can do that goes beyond the level of relaxation or even deep tissue massage? Trigger point therapy, which is done by applying pressure to specific points throughout the body, may be what you need to release deep tensions and other problems, including chronic pain and frozen shoulders.
What is a trigger point?
To the touch, a trigger point feels like a pea or a bead, buried deep inside the muscle tissue. Technically speaking, it’s a hyperirritable spot that develops in a taut band of muscle fiber. It causes a strong contraction of the muscle, causing it to feel very tight but weak at the same time. At their insertion points, which are the places where the muscles are attached, pain and other symptoms usually develop. You’ll quickly know if you have a trigger point when pressure is placed in a specific spot that causes extreme tenderness and even radiating pain to the surrounding area!
One of the foremost pioneers of trigger point therapy is Dr. Janet Travell, who led the way in the early diagnosis and treatment of myofascial and trigger pain and worked as the White House physician for two United States Presidents. Her first journal article on trigger points was published in 1942. Dr. Travell called this kind of pain “the scourge of mankind” because people of all backgrounds and ages are affected by trigger pain, including even young children.
The deceptive pain of Trigger points:
Because trigger points can cause pain to radiate far from their source, diagnosing trigger point pain can be extremely tricky. They are sometimes mistaken as injuries to the ligaments, arthritis, tendonitis or bursitis.
Trigger point symptoms are extremely varied and include complaints such as:
- irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias)
- unexplained pain with sudden onset
- dizziness and vision disturbances
- digestive problems such as nausea, heartburn, indigestion
- joint pain, especially tennis elbow
- sinus congestion
- chronic fatigue
- sleep disturbances
- anxiety and depression
The difficulty in diagnosing these concerns is that they are often caused by referred pain, which is pain or more vague symptoms that are felt far away from the actual problem. As a general rule, it is best to avoid treating the pain on its own, without pinpointing what the source really is. A visit to a skilled massage therapist, who is familiar with these tell-tale signs, can be the key to diagnosing one or more of these concerns.
Why does trigger therapy work?
The human body has over 200 pairs of muscles that can be afflicted by trigger points. The advantage of trigger point therapy is one of the only methods that can actually break the chemical and neurological cycle that causes the muscle tightness and related problems. By restoring proper blood flow to the tissue surrounding the trigger point and gently but deliberately stretching the knotted muscle fibers, a massage therapist can bring immediate relief from many symptoms.
It’s important to find a skilled Massage therapist who is knowledgeable in acupressure, acupuncture as well as trigger therapy in order to treat chronic pain effectively and permanently.
Why do I suffer from trigger point problems?
We all like to know the answer to “why me?” especially if there’s something we can do to prevent the problem from happening in the first place. There are a number of things that can encourage trigger points to develop, but the most likely culprits are strains, overwork and repetitive motions. If these problems are related to your work, you may want to consider ways you can adapt or modify your habits. Speak to your massage therapist for more information and ideas on how to work in a way that is most healthy for your body.
Want to find out more?
For more information or to book a trigger point therapy session here in Sydney,
please call us on (02) 9233 3800