What You May Not Know About Trigger Points

(Anna K Massage) Pain from trigger points can be just as harsh as pain caused by a heart attack, kidney stone, or broken bone.  The pain may not be life threatening but the misery it causes can be extremely debilitating and devastating to the quality of life.

Most of the information presented in this article is based on the research of  Janet G. Travell, MD and David G. Simons, MD.  These scientists extensively studied trigger points and their pain referral patterns.  You will see me referring to Dr. Travell and Simons several times in this article.  In their book you’ll find references to several hundred scientific articles on the subject matter.

Trigger point symptoms can mimic those of other conditions, making them difficult to diagnose.  You may not know this but trigger points are linked to many different symptoms, not just pain.  They are known to contribute to headaches, digestive tissues, numbing and tingling, dizziness, neck and jaw pain, low back pain, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, tooth pain and many kinds of joint pain.  According to Dr. Travell and Simons because trigger points can mimic so many other conditions this can cause a great deal of misdiagnosis.  Many have gone through unnecessary surgery and inappropriate treatment without the knowledge of how trigger points work.  Physicians who understand this knowledge are much more accurate in their diagnoses.

Is There Scientific Research on Trigger Points?

Yes.  There are scientifically proven methods that can monitor the electrical and biochemical activity of trigger points.  The precise location of a trigger point can be found.  Trigger points can also be biopsied and the chemicals can be measured. Researchers have developed a technique to sample the trigger point environment in a living person and compare it to normal muscle tissue.  Current studies reveal that there is a mix of biochemicals present at active trigger point sites such as proinflammatory substances (molecules that promote inflammation), Contractile substances (make your tissue contract), and pain-causing substances.

young scientists making test or research in labSenior life science researcher grafting bacteria.

Being a soft tissue, trigger points can’t be seen on x-rays, but their bands can be detected using MRE.  Research in 2009 shows trigger points can be seen with color Doppler Ultrasound.  Neither of these methods has proven to be very efficient as a diagnostic tool. Finding trigger points by touch and releasing them is still the best way to see if it can help your symptoms.

Pain and Other Symptoms Are Usually Assumed To Have Internal Causes

Portrait an unknown male doctor holding a stethoscope behind

Pain and other symptoms are usually assumed to have internal causes, however, it may be nothing more serious than a trigger point in your muscle.  Doctors who specialize in the treatment of myofascial pain have found that muscles are a primary source of common pain.  Muscle pain may be the biggest cause of disability and loss of time in any workplace.

Many will try muscle relaxers, pain killers, and different types of therapies, which could help or could just mask the symptoms.  If the problem reoccurs, it is more common for it to be muscular-skeletal and trigger point related than most people think.  Many will try trigger point therapy and bodywork as a last resort, thus delaying proper recovery.

What Are Trigger Points?

Pic of triggr pointsThere are two types of trigger points, active trigger points and inactive trigger points.  An active trigger point is a hypersensitive contracted band within the muscle that feels like a cable or a stretched rubber band under your fingertips.  They can cause local pain, but most often refer pain or other symptoms to a different part in your body.

Inactive trigger points are not hypersensitive and do not have symptoms.  They also feel like a cable or a stretched rubber band under your fingertips.  They can be aggravated and become active.

Trigger points can be worked on and released.  When you press on a trigger point, at first it can be painful, it can reproduce and confirm your symptoms.  But once worked on and released, the symptoms associated with it disappear.  If your symptoms disappear upon release of a trigger point, this is a good sign and can mean that this is not a serious issue but muscle related instead.

Trigger Point Work and Massage Therapy Can Help:

  • Digestive Issues, Bone Spur Related Issues, Arthrithis
  • Compressed Spine or Nerves, Knee Pain, Plantar Facsitis
  • Headaches, Sinus Headaches & Congestion
  • Parkinsons, Weakness, Numbness, Tingling, MS, Fibromyalgia
  • Low Back Pain, Chronic Back Tightness, Sciatica
  • Breathing Issues, Asthma, False Heart Pain (Chest Pain)
  • Postural Imbalances, Reproductive Issues, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Tennis Elbow, Frozen Shoulder, TMJ, Neck Pain, Jaw Pain, Mood Disorders

Why Learn More About Trigger Points?

I highly recommend getting this book – The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, largely because it is based on Dr. Travell and Simons work.  Since I began reading it, not only have I saved money on my doctor visits, I’ve also noticed a healthy dose of peace of mind.  I’m of the type that gets easily stressed out when it comes to chronic pain, sudden pain and/or weird symptoms.  Since most doctor visits for pain are muscle related, I thought to myself – “why not invest a small amount to better my health?”  I like this book more than any other books written on trigger points, and here is why:

  • It is a self-care guide, easy step by step walk through on how to find the muscles. You don’t have to be a therapist to use this book, it’s for anyone who wants to learn more about trigger points and muscles.
  • It covers trigger points and symptoms on all the muscles.
  • It is much easier to read and understand then some of the other books on this subject, especially if you’re not familiar with certain medical terms.
  • It has chart references that are very easy to use. You can choose exactly where your pain or symptoms are and it will show you all the different muscles and trigger points that can refer to that particular spot.

You don’t have to get this book (The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook) through my link, but if you do, just know I do get a small commission, this supports my blog and helps cover some of the expenses that are associated with it.  Let me know in the comment section if you do get this book through my links, your support will be greatly appreciated!

sdfghsdhAbout the author: Anna K (LMT) Native of Russia and 2006 graduate of Ashamed college. Her focus of study and extensive research on bodywork makes her an effective and unique therapist. She specializes in Deep Tissue and Sports Injury Work. She also does Relaxation, Therapeutic, Trigger Point Therapy, Prenatal Massage, Hip Work, Abdominal Work, Psoas Work, Knee Work, Posture Correction, Bone Mobilization and Spinal Work – soft tissue techniques.

“I find Massage Therapy fascinating. There is so much more to it than most may realize. The body can be very complex. It is not enough to just know ‘the basics’. It takes a skilled and experienced therapist to achieve great results. My goal is to provide a great experience to my clients. I personalize massage sessions towards individual needs and preferences, continually upgrading my knowledge and skills, to provide the most effective sessions.”  -Anna K

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For more info please visit: www.annakmassage.com