Wouldn’t it be great if you could just press a button and any pain you are experiencing would disappear?
Actually, your body does have its own buttons – or, to be more precise, trigger points – that can be manipulated to relieve specific aches and pains when pressure is applied.
What Is a Trigger Point?
A trigger point is a sensitive area within soft muscle tissue that causes pain in its own or another part of your body. It can develop as a result of a muscle injury, strain, or other trauma.
As the soft tissue heals, it can contract and become twisted and knotted. This restricts fresh blood supply to the muscle cells, and there is often a shortening of muscle fiber.
What’s happening is that the muscle is avoiding pain by limiting its range of motion which, in turn, creates a myofascial (muscle) trigger point. For example, when pressed, a trigger point in your back might alleviate a pain in your neck.
Where Are the Trigger Points?
This raises an interesting question – how do therapists locate the best trigger points? The simple answer is that trigger points are found in hard, knotted areas of muscle that are sensitive to the touch.
Muscles that were involved in previous surgeries tend to have painful trigger points. So do muscles located close to joints or between the shoulder blades.
Another clue is that most muscles and trigger points are paired, meaning that a point on one side of the body has a corresponding point on the other side. Pressure applied accordingly will usually deliver the most relief.
Massage Therapy and Trigger Points
Taking advantage of this understanding, trigger point massage therapy is specially designed to ease the source of pain. This is done via cycles of isolated pressure and release while the recipient breathes deeply, helping the medical professional or therapist to identify the precise location and intensity of his or her discomfort.
This kind of therapy helps to release the constricted areas in the patient’s muscles, thus resulting in a significant decrease in pain after a single massage treatment. When performed on a regular basis, trigger point therapy can help manage physical stress in people who are suffering from chronic pain due to injuries.
Pain Relief via Dry Needling
Another form of trigger point therapy involves dry needling (e.g., myofascial trigger point dry needling), which is similar to acupuncture. This method is used by physical therapists, whereby tiny needles are inserted into specific muscles to release tension from knots and pressure points.
Whereas acupuncture is intended to target specific trigger points and stimulate nerve impulses, dry needling is used to treat the source of pain – such as sciatica, knee pain, rotator cuff syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and other muscle strains – by stimulating a specific trigger point to dissipate the pain to other parts of the body and bring relief.
Physical Therapist in Austin
At Endeavor Physical Therapy, our therapists are experts at locating the best trigger points for pain relief – and using dry needling to help release muscle tension and pain using acupuncture-type needles.