Bodywork: Trigger Point Therapy, Part 2 (The Treatment)
By Sarah Costa, CMT
Last time, we discussed exactly what a trigger point was. To summarize, trigger points are areas of low neurological activity, that when stimulated or stressed, transform into an area of high neurological activity with referred sensation to other parts of the body.
Trigger points can be caused by birth traumas, injuries or accidents; but many of them are caused by poor posture and overexertion.
There are many different classifications of trigger points:
• Active Trigger Points: Actively refers pain either locally or to another location.
• Inactive (Latent) Trigger Points: Does not yet refer pain but can be felt locally when palpated.
• Primary Trigger Points: Has a pain referral pattern along a nerve pathway that creates or activates a latent trigger point along that same pathway.
• Satellite Trigger Points: Activated by a primary trigger point. Deactivating the primary trigger point will also deactivate any satellites that are associated with it.
How are trigger points treated? One of the most utilized therapy techniques at HOPE Wellness Institute is Trigger Point Therapy (TPT). This therapeutic technique is employed by all of our therapists and is easily integrated into the many different massage modalities practiced here at the clinic. TPT is a bodywork technique that involves applying and holding pressure on trigger points within the muscles in order to relieve pain and dysfunction at the site and in other parts of the body. It is most often used in conjunction with other massage techniques like neuromuscular therapy and myofascial release. There are guidelines for this treatment as well, as trigger point charts that have documented the most commonly found trigger points on the human body and their referral patterns. These tools help guide therapists to effective treatment without over stimulating the trigger points.
Here are some things to keep in mind about trigger point therapy:
• It took a while to get your muscles into the condition they are in, so it will most likely take more than one massage to get rid of the discomfort.
• These trigger points are often areas of chronic “holding” and you will need to learn how to move in different ways to keep them from recurring.
• At times the treatment can be uncomfortable, but our therapists are trained to work within your tolerance of discomfort. Feedback is necessary and helps make a session as successful as possible, so no sleeping allowed.
• After several treatments, any swelling or stiffness from neuromuscular discomfort is reduced, range of motion is increased, tension is relieved, and circulation, flexibility and coordination are improved.
Trigger points are commonly misdiagnosed as other painful conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendinitis, angina, and sciatica. We have even heard of cases when trigger points have referred pain into the teeth, leading dentists to perform root canals on teeth that were perfectly healthy.
Trigger point therapy is a very effective method to relieve points of discomfort in the muscles. Here at HOPE Wellness Institute we are very familiar with the ways in which this technique can be combined and optimized by matching it with other massage modalities. We use balance and expertise to ensure that therapeutic progress is made during each session without aggravating or overworking irritable points in the muscles. Please give us a call today if you have any questions regarding trigger point therapy or if you would like to book a session with one of our talented therapists.