People often think of a massage as a relaxing experience, something they might do occasionally, or give as a gift along with a trip to the spa. Trigger point massage therapy is another kind of massage used to treat pain and physical dysfunction. Trigger points can develop in people from all walks of life. They can affect people of all ages, office workers and labourers, elite and weekend athletes, post surgical patients, people with acute pain from injury and people with chronic pain. Trigger point massage therapy can treat a wide variety of physical conditions such as:
– back pain.
– Carple tunnel syndrome
– achy persistent pain
– pain from Fibromyalgia
– post surgical pain and scarring
– soft tissue injuries related to sports
– TMJ dysfunction
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.
The diaphragm is the major muscle of respiration. It’s main action is to increase the volume of the thoracic cavity during inhalation. Trigger points form in this muscle due to asthma, emotional overload, disk problems, weak abdominals, hyperventilating, smoking, and poor posture. When trigger points form they can cause a wide variety of symptoms including hyperventilation syndrome, heart and lung issues, as well as a “stitch” pain when running or exercising.
The Rectus Femoris muscle is a large muscle that makes up part of the quadriceps group. It functions to extend the knee and flex the hip. It originates on the anterior inferior iliac spine and part of the acetabulum. It’s insertion is the patella via the quadriceps tendon and tibial tuberosity via the patellar ligament. Trigger points in this muscle refer deep into the knee. This muscle is an often overlooked source of knee pain.
The Brachioradialis muscle is a muscle located in your forearm. It helps to flex the elbow during semi pronation, such as when drinking a cup of coffee or holding a phone to your ear. When trigger points form in this muscle pain can be felt in the forearm, back of the elbow, and even into the hand.
Planter fascitis is a painful condition affecting the bottoms of the feet. It involves inflammation and tightness of the planter fascia, which is a tough layer of connective tissue on the bottoms of the feet. Trigger points in the calf and foot muscles are a leading cause of planter fascitis. These points not only cause the muscle to become tight which in turn causes the fascia to be tight, but the trigger point pain referral patterns of these muscle will cause pain to be felt in the bottoms of the feet and heal. These causes are often overlooked leading to ineffective treatment and prolonged suffering.