Introduction to Trigger Points
What is a trigger point? By clinical definition, a trigger point is a hyper-irritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a hyper-sensitive palpable nodule in a taut band. This spot is painful upon compression and can give rise to characteristic referred pain, referred tenderness, motor dysfunction and autonomic phenomena.
*Travell & Simons; Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction Trigger Point Manual; 1999, page 5
What are symptoms of trigger points? Trigger points can be latent or active and can go back and forth between these different stages if not treated properly. Latent trigger points cause weakness and fatigue along with reduced range of motion in the involved muscle(s) yet do not cause pain. However, active trigger points can produce a long list of symptoms not limited to pain, such as nausea, excessive tearing, vertigo or dizzy spells, carpel tunnel syndrome, heartburn, gas and bloating to name just a few.
Why do I have trigger points and how do I get rid of them? Anyone at any age can develop trigger points. No one is immune to them; however, some seem to suffer more than others. There is a physiological process that causes trigger points to form. Several reasons they form include; sedentary lifestyle, nutritional deficiencies, diet, injury, repetitive strain, over-exercising, and skeletal abnormalities. By sourcing out a trained trigger point bodyworker/therapist you can seek treatment and follow the at-home protocol to help get rid of stubborn trigger points.
Diagnosed? or Misdiagnosed? At times patients are diagnosed with conditions such as Frozen Shoulder, Migraines, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, Back Pain, Tennis Elbow, Golfer's Elbow, or Sciatic(a) just to name a few. Most times the source of the symptom(s) is found to be of muscle origin. Sadly, most people that are seeking pain relief are still being prescribed anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, or other medications such as anti-depressants.
It is a common approach to be referred to a therapist or strength coach to have "weak" muscles strengthened when in reality a muscle that contains trigger points CAN'T be strengthened and rarely should be stretched.
What do I look for in a Trigger Point Body Worker? First and foremost your body worker must be knowledgeable of two important books. If they do not own a copy of "Travell and Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction Trigger Point Manuals Vol 1 & 2" then they do not practice true trigger point body work! These textbooks are the foundation of the study and practice of Trigger Point Bodywork. Many people only dabble in trigger point work and are only doing a disservice to the client. This also leads to confusion for the client thinking that if they get a massage that this is trigger point work, it is not, the two types of therapies are very different and should not be confused.