What Is Trigger Point Therapy?admin
Trigger points might well be considered the hot spots of muscle pain. Existing as small, hard nodules, they produce pain completely out of proportion to their actual size, especially if they are sitting right on top of a nerve. Trigger points will often radiate pain out from their point of origin to cause discomfort at a spot separated from the actual trigger point. Trigger points can actually be felt during massage and pressure on them will cause an electric jolt of pain. These problem areas can be found in the muscles or in the muscle sheath (the tough fibrous coating for the muscles).
Why Trigger Points Form
There are a number of different situations that can cause trigger points to form. Probably the most common reason is simply because a muscle has been overused or strained, causing part of it to knot up into a hard little cluster. The knot pinches the nerves and restricts circulation which not only results in pain, but makes it more difficult for the trigger point to heal up on its own.
Other causes of trigger points can include injury during a vehicular accident, a trauma to the muscle, infection, and even heavy smoking. A person who is under extreme stress can also develop trigger points as their already tight muscles contract even further into a knot.
Classifying Trigger Points
Trigger points have received designations that reflect their status in the body at any particular time:
• Active trigger points are ones that you are aware of already, either at the knot itself, or because it is causing pain somewhere along the nerve pathway on which it is located.
• Latent trigger points might be considered the ‘sleepers’ of trigger points and will remain quiescent until actually touched.
• Key trigger points are those that actually do stimulate a latent trigger point to become painful – in this case the latent trigger point will be located somewhere on the same nerve path as the key point.
• Satellite trigger points are those formerly latent points that have been activated by the key trigger point. Not surprisingly, once the key trigger point has been negated by massage therapy, the satellite stops hurting, too.
Massage Therapy to the Rescue
Trigger points are certainly easily recognizable from ordinary muscle pain in the electric jolt sensation they produce when touched or activated. Trigger points can make not only exercise and sports difficult or impossible, but can also interfere with ordinary daily activities. Balance can be affected as you try to favor the trigger point in order to avoid further pain.
Trigger point massage will be a bit different from that to which most people are accustomed to as the nodule must be broken up so that the muscle can return to its original condition. During a trigger point session, the therapist will locate each problematic trigger point and apply pressure directly to it. The client will tell the therapist when the pain reaches a certain level, and the pressure will be held until the pain diminishes. Your therapist will then release pressure on the trigger point momentarily after which further pressure will be applied.
The pressure applied by the massage therapist will straighten out the bunched muscle fibers, relieving the pain associated with the trigger point. However, this must be followed up with a stripping massage to make sure that the muscles resist knotting up again. Most patients experience measurable relief after just one therapy session, although others will require follow up visits to treat more extreme cases.
It is always a good idea to follow trigger point therapy with a general massage. As endorphins are released during the massage, any residual pain will be lessened and a feeling of wellbeing will help allow the muscles to further relax. The increased blood flow to the muscles will help to repair any damage done by the trigger point knot.
Even though one massage therapy session can provide relief from trigger point pain, regular massage will help to keep the muscles stronger, relaxed, and much less likely to develop trigger points in the future.