Fortunately trigger points have been studied extensively by skilled body workers and treatment protocols have been developed to effectively treat them.
What are Trigger Points?
Also commonly called knots, tender points or adhesions. Trigger points are usually the most tender spot in an achy muscle. Sometimes you can even hear and feel them while massaging near them. They often sound like rocks are stuck in your muscle tissue or sound like a crunch when a massage therapist makes a deep stroke over them.
In fact, you may be able to feel a trigger point in your own muscles. It may feel like a solid, rock like marble inside of a muscle surrounded by more loose muscle tissue that is more pliable.
There are many less than verifiable theories about what trigger points are and why they are painful. Some theories say that trigger points are extremely taught muscle fibers that irritate small nerves. Others say that these tight muscle fibers cut off their own blood supply and that is why they become painful. Much like a dead leg can be painful after you have sat on it wrong, cutting off the blood supply temporarily.
Whether we understand what they really are or not, massage therapists know that trigger points are a real thing and they tend to be behind many extremely common patterns of pain that plague the human body.
What do Trigger Points Feel Like?
Most trigger points usually send or “refer” pain to distant areas of the body. This referral pain can sometimes feel like something else entirely, from nerve pain to headaches, trigger points can manifest in mysterious ways. These pain patterns are very well documented.
Sometimes, trigger points of the head feel like:
- Pressure in your eye.
- Pressure in your ear.
- Headaches that move across your forehead
- Headaches that cause pain in your teeth.
- Some migraines can originate from trigger points.
Upper body trigger points commonly cause pain that feels like:
- Pain shooting from the shoulder to the hand.
- Nerve pain shooting down the arm.
- A deep ache between the shoulder blades.
- Stabbing pain between the shoulder blades.
- Pain shooting from your shoulder up the side of your neck to the ear.
Lower body trigger points may feel like:
- Pain shooting from your lower back to the front of your hip
- Sciatica. Some trigger points can shoot from your glutes to your feet, mimicking sciatica pain.
- Pain in the soles of your feet can mimic plantar fasciitis.
- Pain shooting across your belt line on your lower back
- Pain that goes up and down the lower part of your spine.
Trigger Points are Well Documented
For years, trigger points have been very well documented, therapists who are highly skilled in trigger point therapy often refer to charts that show where trigger points are located and exactly where they refer pain.
This is possible because trigger points behave in the same way for over 80% of the population. That’s right! Over 80% of people experience the same pain referral patterns on the body.
In fact, simply asking you a few simple questions about where you feel your pain in your body can tell your massage therapist quite a bit about the origins of your pain and how to treat it during your massage session.
By matching where you feel the pain to a trigger point chart is often sufficient to identify the exact trigger point that is contributing to your pain.
The most comprehensive documentation of trigger points and how to treat them effectively is the book- Travell & Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction. This book includes 2 volumes, one for the upper half of the body and one for the lower half. With over 1000 pages of small print documenting all known trigger points in the upper half of the body. Sometimes called the “big red book” in the body work world, this trigger point guide is a must have for therapeutic massage therapists.
When your massage therapist knows how to treat trigger points well, the efficacy of your treatment usually increases exponentially.
What is Trigger Point Therapy?
Trigger point therapy is the technique used to locate, identify and eliminate trigger points that cause pain. In short, it is the technical practice of getting the knots out and is one of the fundamental techniques used by a therapeutic massage therapist to help eliminate pain.
Once identified using trigger point charts, a massage therapist may use their elbows, finger tips or massage tools to apply pressure to a trigger point in a specific way that is designed to eliminate it and the pain associated with it.
Applying pressure to these areas in a strategic way is the basis of most trigger point therapy protocols.
The Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger point therapy has many benefits. Many people experience a decrease in pain and an increase in range of motion. Deep tissue massages often include a bit of trigger point therapy. If during your last deep tissue massage, your therapist applied pressure to a very specific point to release it, this was likely a form of trigger point therapy.
When a trigger point gets released, you may feel a
- Rush of relief in the area
- A serious reduction in pain
- Pain in a distant area of the body reduced
What to expect during a Trigger Point Therapy Massage
Once your therapist identifies and locates your problematic trigger points. You can expect a gentle to a somewhat heavy pressure applied to the trigger point by the therapist. Most massage therapists will apply pressure for 8 to 10 second and then give the area a break for a few seconds then they will repeat this process until the pain levels decrease.
This usually means that sufficient blood flow has been restored to the area and the massage therapy treatment is heading in the right direction.
If you have scar tissue or muscle pain this type of massage could be beneficial for you.
How to Find a Trigger Point Therapist
If you think you need a trigger point therapist. Give us a call at the Alternative Therapy Center and tell us more about the pain you’re experiencing.
You can give us a call @ 727-822-9220 or book online. We are here to help you resolve your pain in anyway that you can!