Trigger Point Massage

What is a Trigger Point?

Trigger points are described as hyperirritable spots in muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in tight bands of muscle fibers.  They usually develop due to a muscular overload and are actually the result of a local area of ischemia (blood loss). The palpable nodules are said to be small contraction knots and are a common cause of pain. Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or motor dysfunction. Scientists have mapped patterns of referral for trigger points throughout the body. For example, a trigger point palpated in the upper trapezius muscle can cause a referral pattern of pain to the temporal region of the head. Deep tissue massage is highly beneficial in the treatment of trigger points and often times can release trigger points almost instantaneously.

Trigger points can cause pain directly. Although a variety of stresses might predispose you to getting more trigger points, trigger points are quite capable of existing independently of any obvious underlying problem. In a sense, they are a natural and inevitable part of muscle tissue. Just as almost everyone gets some pimples, sooner or later almost everyone gets muscle knots.

Trigger points complicate injuries. Almost no matter what happens to you, you can count on trigger points to make it worse. They routinely form in response to injuries, or really any other kind of pain and dysfunction. As if that weren’t bad enough, in many cases they actually begin to overshadow the original problem. Argh.

Trigger points mimic other problems. Due to some of the weird but well-documented characteristics of trigger point pain, it is awfully easy for an unsuspecting doctor to mistake trigger point pain for … well, practically anything but a trigger point. For instance, trigger points are a much more common cause of pain than the more widely reported repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). and dozens of other scapegoats for which it is routinely mistaken.

Trigger points routinely complicate most injuries and often begin to overshadow the original problem.

Although mild and moderate muscle knots are easily treated, myofascial pain syndrome is completely unknown to many medical professionals, and unfamiliar to nearly all of them. Registered massage therapists often recognize and treat this condition because of our extensive hands-on experience — it is most easily diagnosed by feel. The handful of other health care professionals that recognize the clinical importance of trigger points often don’t actually know how to relieve them.

The daily clinical experience of thousands of massage therapists, physical therapists, and physicians strongly indicates that most of our common aches and pains — and many other puzzling physical complaints — are actually caused by trigger points, or small contraction knots, in the muscles of the body.