Trigger points in the sternocleidomastoid muscle.

The Sternocleidomastoid muscle is a strap like muscle in your neck. It originates on the manubrium and medial clavicle. It inserts on the mastoid process of the temporal bone, and the superior nuchal line. This muscle acts alone to rotate the face to the opposite side and lift it two rod the ceiling. Together they flex the head and neck. Trigger points in sternal division of this muscle refer pain to the cheek and along the supraorbital ridge. The lowest points refer down to the sternum. The highest points refer to the occipital ridge and vertex of the head. Trigger points in the costal division refer to the into the forehead. The most superior trigger points refer into the ear, and can postural dizziness.

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Trigger points in the trapezius muscle.

The trapezius muscle is a large diamond shaped muscle that travels from the neck to the mid back. It originates on the nuchal ligament, and the spinous processes of C6-T12. It has its insertion on the scapular spine, acromion process, and distal clavicle. The upper fibres of this muscle work to elevate the shoulder, and rotate the glenoid fossa upwards. The lower fibres assist this motion, and the middle fibres are strong adductors of the scapula. This is the number one muscle in the body tp get trigger points. Trigger points in the lateral upper edge refer pain in the lateral neck and temples, a common cause of headaches. Points in the middle and lower fibres refer pain into the posterior neck and shoulder.

Trigger points in the temporalis muscle.

The temporalis muscle is located at the temples of the skull. It originates on the temporal lines of the parietal bone of the skull. It inserts on the coronoid process of the mandible. It functions bilaterally to close the jaw, and unilaterally to deviate the mandible to the same side. When trigger points develop in this muscle they often cause headaches into and above the eye and temple as well as hypersensitivity of the teeth.

Trigger point massage

Session Description

A treatment with Bryan is very user friendly. And, no, you don’t have to remove any clothing. However, bringing a t-shirt and a pair of shorts or sweats is recommended.

The first time you come for a treatment you will be asked to fill out a Client History form. Bryan will go over the information you provide, asking for more detail and discussing the type of pain you are having and its location.

The treatment itself involves locating the Trigger Points in the muscle or soft tissue and applying a deep focused pressure to the Point. This will reproduce the pain and the referral pattern that is characteristic of that pain.

The treatment will be uncomfortable at first, but as the Trigger Points release, the pain will decrease. The pressure will always be adjusted to your tolerance level. If, at any time, you feel too uncomfortable you can ask Bryan to ease off a bit.

Depending on your specific problem, Bryan may also use some stretching and / or range-of-motion techniques, as needed.

After treatment, it is usually recommended that the client apply moist heat to the area treated.

Trigger points in the levator scapula

The levator scapula is a muscle located in your neck. It originates on the transverse processes of C1-C4 vertebrae. It inserts on the superior part of the medial border of the scapula. This muscle acts to elevate the scapula and rotate the glenoid fossa downward. At the cervical attachment it acts to rotate the neck to the same side and assists extension. Trigger points will refer pain into the angle of the neck with spillover into the scapula. When this muscle is tight due to trigger points it will restrict neck rotation causing the classic stiff neck. With a forward head position this muscle often becomes stretched and over worked.

Trigger points in the lateral pterygoid muscle

The Lateral Pterygoid muscle is a muscle of the jaw. It originates on the greater wing of the sphenoid bone and the lateral pterygoid plate. It has its insertion on the condyloid process of the mandible. Functionally it it assists in opening the jaw by pulling the head of the mandibular condyle out of the mandibular fossa. Trigger points in this muscle refer pain into the temporal mandibular joint and maxillary sinus. Trigger points in this muscle are often the cause of pain felt from TMJ dysfunction.

A treatment with Bryan Cobb RMT.

Session Description

A treatment with Bryan is very user friendly. And, no, you don’t have to remove any clothing. However, bringing a t-shirt and a pair of shorts or sweats is recommended.

The first time you come for a treatment you will be asked to fill out a Client History form. Bryan will go over the information you provide, asking for more detail and discussing the type of pain you are having and its location.

The treatment itself involves locating the Trigger Points in the muscle or soft tissue and applying a deep focused pressure to the Point. This will reproduce the pain and the referral pattern that is characteristic of that pain.

The treatment will be uncomfortable at first, but as the Trigger Points release, the pain will decrease. The pressure will always be adjusted to your tolerance level. If, at any time, you feel too uncomfortable you can ask Bryan to ease off a bit.

Depending on your specific problem, Bryan may also use some stretching and / or range-of-motion techniques, as needed.

After treatment, it is usually recommended that the client apply moist heat to the area treated.

 

What the Heck Is a Trigger Point?

By Bryan Cobb, Advanced Remedial Massage Therapist

What is a Trigger Point?

Trigger Points (TP’s) are defined as a “hyper-irritable spot within a taut band of skeletal muscle. The spot is painful on compression and can evoke characteristic referred pain and autonomic phenomena.”1

Put into plain language, a TP is a painful knot in muscle tissue that can refer pain to other areas of the body. You have probably felt the characteristic achy pain and stiffness that TP’s produce, at some time in your life.

TP’s were first brought to the attention of the medical world by Dr. Janet G. Travell. Dr. Travell, physician to President John F. Kennedy, is the acknowledged Mother of Myofascial Trigger Points.  In fact, “Trigger Point massage, the most effective modality used by massage therapists for the relief of pain, is based almost entirely on Dr. Travell’s insights.”2  Dr. Travell’s partner in her research was Dr. David G. Simons, a research scientist and aerospace physician.

Trigger Points are very common. In fact, Travell and Simons state that TP’s are responsible for, or associated with, 75% of pain complaints or conditions.1 With this kind of prevalence, it’s no wonder that TP’s are often referred to as the “scourge of mankind”.

Trigger Points can produce a wide variety of pain complaints. Some of the most common are migraine headaches, back pain, and pain and tingling into the extremities. They are usually responsible for most cases of achy deep pain that is hard to localize.

A TP will refer pain in a predictable pattern, based on its location in a given muscle. Also, since these spots are bundles of contracted muscle fibres, they can cause stiffness and a decreased range of motion.  Chronic conditions with many TP’s can also cause general fatigue and malaise, as well as muscle weakness.

Trigger Points are remarkably easy to get, but the most common causes are

TP’s (black dots) can refer pain to other areas (red)

Sudden overload of a muscle

• Poor posture

• Chronic frozen posture (e.g., from a desk job),  and

• Repetitive strain

Once in place, a TP can remain there for the remainder of your life unless an intervention takes place.

Trigger Points Not Well Known

With thousands of people dealing with chronic pain, and with TP’s being responsible for — or associated with — a high percentage of chronic pain, it is very disappointing to find that a large portion of doctors and other health care practitioners don’t know about TP’s and their symptoms.

Scientific research on TP’s dates back to the 1700’s.  There are numerous medical texts and papers written on the subject.

But, it still has been largely overlooked by the health care field.  This has led to needless frustration and suffering, as well as thousands of lost work hours and a poorer quality of life.

How Are Trigger Points Treated?

As nasty and troublesome as TP’s are, the treatment for them is surely straight-forward.  A skilled practitioner will assess the individual’s pain complaint to determine the most likely location of the TP’s and then apply one of several therapeutic modalities, the most effective of which is a massage technique called “ischemic compression”.

Basically, the therapist will apply a firm, steady pressure to the TP, strong enough to reproduce the symptoms.  The pressure will remain until the tissue softens and then the pressure will increase appropriately until the next barrier is felt.  This pressure is continued until the referral pain has subsided and the TP is released. (Note:  a full release of TP’s could take several sessions.) 

Other effective modalities include dry needling (needle placed into the belly of the TP) or wet needling (injection into the TP).  The use of moist heat and stretching prove effective, as well. The best practitioners for TP release are Massage Therapists, Physiotherapists, and Athletic Therapists.  An educated individual can also apply ischemic compression to themselves, but should start out seeing one of the above therapists to become familiar with

the modality and how to apply pressure safely.

1 Simons, D.G., Travell, D.G., & Simons, L.S. Travell and Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual.

Vol. 1.  2nd ed. Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins, 1999.

2http://www.muscletherapyworks.com/MTW%20Biography%20T%20&%20S%2001.htm