Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger point therapy is the most effective modality used by massage therapists for the relief of pain. But let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?

So, what is a Trigger Point?

Named appropriately, the term trigger point defines a specific point in the body that “triggers” a painful response. Trigger points are small but highly sensitive nodules, or knots, that develop within a taut band of muscles fibers, typically due to overuse of a specific muscle group or postural dysfunction (i.e. micro areas the have been overused).

More than just a tender nodule, a trigger point not only affects the muscle from which its located, but also results in what’s often called “referred pain” in connective tissues supplied by nerves. Referred pain is when pain is perceived at one location but is actually the result of a painful stimulus in another part of the body. There are at least two hundred pairs of muscles that can attribute to referred pain and or motor dysfunction – often to another location. Not only can this condition cause pain, but it can also result is muscle weakness and impaired range of motion.

What is Trigger Point Therapy?

Trigger point therapy is a specialized treatment that focuses on these painful trigger points that can cause referred pain.

It’s important to understand that it took some time for this painful condition to develop within the muscle, therefore it will likely require several massages to appropriately treat the problem. Another point to consider is that these trigger points are chronic locations of “holding” and one will need to retrain their body to move differently to keep them from recurring.

Simply put, the goal with trigger point therapy is to treat the pain. However, this is a process and as mentioned above, these points are often highly sensitive. Treatment usually offers a bittersweet relief – almost a mixture of a “good” pain that delivers a relieving sensation. Some people rather enjoy this bittersweet feeling, but others are much more sensitive to it’s effects. It is therefore extremely important for the patient to communicate with their therapist to make sure the trigger point therapy does not go beyond the boundaries of their comfort level.

Trigger point therapy diagram

Diagram shows different Trigger Point Therapy techniques