Shoulder and arm pain from the subscapularis muscle.

The subscapularis muscle is one of the rotator cuff muscles. It is located on the inside of the scapula, and can be difficult to access. This muscle functions to internally rotate the arm as well as to adduct the shoulder. It is also a stabilizer of the shoulder joint. When this muscle is overloaded or injured trigger points can form. These points will refer pain into the back of the shoulder and down the inside of the arm to the wrist. Trigger points in the subscapularis are often associated with a frozen shoulder.

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Why trigger point therapy?

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:

– Migraines

– back pain.

– sciatica

– Carple tunnel syndrome

– achy persistent pain

– pain from Fibromyalgia

– post surgical pain and scarring

– soft tissue injuries related to sports

– TMJ dysfunction

Trigger points in the supraspinatus muscle.

The supraspinatus muscle is a small muscle that helps make up the rotator cuff. It is responsible for shoulder stability as well as lateral rotation of the arm, and help initiate abduction of the shoulder. This muscle can become injured from overhead movements of the shoulder such as painting a ceiling or throwing movements. When this happens trigger points will form producing pain felt in the shoulder, and down the arm. These points will also cause weakness and stiffness. Trigger points must be released for the area to heal.

Trigger points in the infraspinatus and shoulder and arm pain.

The infraspinatus muscle is one of the muscles that makes up the rotator cuff. It functions to laterally rotate the shoulder and to stabilize the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff problems are common and can be caused by both acute injuries, or chronic repeditive movements, and poor posture. When this happens trigger points will form causing pain, refered pain, as well as stiffness and weakness. Refered pain from trigger points in the infraspinatus can be felt into the front of the shoulder and down the arm. Trigger points can also produce a sensation the the shoulder joint isn’t “sitting right”. Trigger points must be released to relieve these symptoms.

Myofascial trigger points and pain.

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 point massage

Trigger points are contracted knots in muscles. They form from overload stress causing muscle fibers to become locked together in a self perpetuateing spasm. Trigger points will then produce pain, usually deep achy pain, as well as refered pain. Because of the contraction of the tissue trigger points will also produce stiffness and weakness. Trigger points are also known to mimick other symptoms such as Carple tunnel, and sciatica symptoms. Trigger points are one of, if not the most common cause of pain in the body. Regular massage therapy is not specific or deep enough to release trigger points, a specific technique of applying deep focused pressure to the heart of the knot is required for the point to release. This is called trigger point massage.