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Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger Point Therapy

I value trigger point therapy the highest among numerous treatment methods because I found most of the symptoms are coming back until you find and release trigger points. It indicates trigger points are one of the main sources of pain and dysfunction.

If you already have tried massage, stretching, acupuncture, or spine adjustment, but still pain is coming back, it is time to suspect trigger points as a culprit.

Trigger Point is the most common cause of the musculoskeletal pain.

What is Trigger Point?

What is Trigger Point

A Trigger Point (TrP) is a hyper-irritable palpable nodule in the muscle fiber. In this small area, the muscle fiber is always being contracted and shortened since the receptors inside of the muscle are over-activating (Muscle Spindle).

Trigger point refers the pain and strange sensation to the other body area which makes it difficult to diagnose the source of pain.

If the muscle has active trigger points, it decreases muscle strength, shortens the muscle length, and limits blood supply resulting in poor metabolism and energy crisis.

What causes Trigger Point?

Human body is supported and manipulated by muscle contraction. Once muscles are being used, it creates waste products such as lactic acid which makes the cellular PH acidic. If we give proper stimulation (e.g. stretching, massage) and rest, it can dissolve into the bloodstream easily. If the muscles are fatigued without enough stimulation, under this acidic environment, muscles become progressively tighter and eventually develop trigger points and it increases body discomfort.

  1. Inactivity, sedentary lifestyle, poor posture
  2. Overusing muscles, high intensity exercises, strengthening based exercise program without proper rest and stretching
  3. Lack of stretching
  4. Stress (mental, emotional stress)
  5. Inflammation (any types of inflammation can cause trigger points)
  6. Injury or trauma (Once body has trauma, muscles make trigger points to decrease joint range of motion for protection)

What is Trigger Point Therapy?

Trigger Point Release Protocol

  1. In order to release the trigger point, the exact spot will be located by the skilled hands of the practitioner. It is called palpation technique. The more accurate location we can find, the better result we can get.
  2. Then, proper pressure should be applied on the trigger point. It can be performed manually or by using specifically designed tools. This pressure will be sustained between 20-60 seconds depending on the resistance of the tissue and patient’s pain tolerance.
  3. It will be repeated until the sensitivity of the trigger point decreases more than 30-50%. Try to release the worst spot (the most active trigger point) first and move on to the second worst area. Release 2-5 trigger points in one session.
  4. If it is successfully released, pain intensity decreases and strength of the muscle increases. The result can be immediate or after experiencing post treatment soreness about 1-3 days
  5. Lengthening the muscles followed by trigger point therapy will double the effect (stretching program).
  6. Core exercise will be added to your exercise program in order to make a long term effect.
  7. Educate self trigger point release techniques using a foam roller and ball

What is the advantage of Trigger point release compared to other treatment techniques?

Most of the muscle and joint dysfunction begin with poor connective tissues quality. Muscle, tendon and surrounding fascia become tight and develop trigger points. It creates compression force in the joint, poor alignment due to lack of support from muscles, and eventually develops other issues such as ligament, meniscus, tendon, disc damage.

Since activated trigger point and myofascial tightness are the fundamental source of pain and dysfunction, these treatments have a long lasting effect.

For example, if we release trigger points and myofascial tightness in Quadriceps and IT Band, most knee pain improves since tension around the knee cap diminishes. If the practitioner performs myofascial trigger point release in superficial/ deep abdomen area and back muscles, the spine is naturally decompressed without traction since the source of tension has decreased.