Trigger points in the adductor pollicis muscle.

The adductor pollicis muscle is a key mover of the thumb. This muscle has two heads. The transverse head originates on the third metacarpal. The oblique head originates on the base of the second and third metacarpals and the capitate and trapezoid bones. This muscle inserts on the base of the proximal phalanx and ulnar sesamoid. Adduction and flexion of the thumb are the main actions it produces. Trigger points cause an aching pain along the outside of the thumb and hand. Pain can also be felt in the thenar eminence in extreme cases.

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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 

Trigger points in the deltoid muscle

The deltoid is the main muscle that makes up the shoulder. It originates on the clavicle, acromion, and spine of the scapula. It inserts on the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus. The deltoid acts at the shoulder to produce abduction, and assist with flexion and extension. The deltoid is especially prone to developing trigger points. These posterior style will refer pain into the anterior and lateral shoulder. Trigger points in the posterior delt will refer pain into the posterior shoulder with spillover down the lateral arm.

Trigger points in the adductor longus and brevis.

These muscles are located in the groin. The longus originates on the pubic body just below the pubic crest and inserts on the middle third of the linea aspera.The brevis muscle originates on the inferior ramus and body of the pubis and has its attachment to the lesser trochanter and linea aspera of the femur. Trigger points in these muscles are the most common muscular cause of groin pain. Distal trigger points refer pain to the upper medial knee and down the tibia. Proximal trigger points refer into the anterior hip area.

A weak lateral chain will stop you in your tracks.

One very important job of your hip muscles is to maintain the alignment of your leg when you move. One of the primary hip muscles, the gluteus medius, plays an especially important stabilizing role when you walk, run, or squat. The gluteus medius attaches your thigh bone to the crest of your hip. When you lift your left leg, your right gluteus medius must contract in order to keep your body from tipping toward the left. And when you are standing on a bent leg, your gluteus medius prevents that knee from diving into a “knock knee” or “valgus” position.
Weakness of the gluteus medius allows your pelvis to drop and your knee to dive inward when you walk or run. This places tremendous strain on your hip and knee and may cause other problems too. When your knee dives inward, your kneecap is forced outward, causing it to rub harder against your thigh bone- creating a painful irritation and eventually arthritis. Walking and running with a relative “knock knee” position places tremendous stress on the ligaments around your knee and is a known cause of “sprains”. Downstream, a “knock knee” position puts additional stress on the arch of your foot, leading to other painful problems, like plantar fasciitis. Upstream, weak hips allow your pelvis to roll forward which forces your spine into a “sway back” posture. This is a known cause of lower back pain. Hip muscle weakness seems to be more common in females, especially athletes.

You should avoid activities that cause prolonged stretching of the hip abductors, like “hanging on one hip” while standing, sitting crossed legged, and sleeping in a side-lying position with your top knee flexed and touching the bed. Patients with fallen arches may benefit from arch supports or orthotics. Obesity causes more stress to the hip muscles, so overweight patients may benefit from a diet and exercise program. The most important treatment for hip abductor weakness is strength training. Hip strengthening is directly linked to symptom improvement. Moreover, people with stronger hip muscles are less likely to become injured in the first place. The exercises listed below are critical for your recovery.

What is knee tendonitis?

Tendons are strong bands of fibrous tissue that connect your muscles to your bones. Your “patellar tendon” connects your kneecap (patella) to your shin bone (tibia). “Patellar tendonopathy” results from repetitive straining and micro-tearing of this connection, resulting in pain and inflammation. The condition is referred to as “jumper’s knee,” since damage is thought to often result from repetitive jumping.

The condition should probably be called “landing knee,” since forces on the patellar tendon are twice as great during landing as compared to those created during take off.

Patellar tendinopathy is common, affecting almost 20% of all athletes with a rate as high as 50% in sports that require repetitive forceful jumping, like basketball and volleyball. The condition may affect one or both knees and may be slightly more common in males.

Weakness in the quadriceps muscle of your thigh can allow excessive bending of your knee when you land following a jump. This places your patellar tendon at a greater risk for injury. Having strong quadriceps muscles protects your knee from excessive flexion and injury.

Symptoms of patellar tendinopathy include pain or swelling just below your kneecap. This may begin without an identifiable injury and may come and go for months or years. Symptoms are usually aggravated by activity, but most athletes have been able to continue playing through the pain. Pain often increases during activities that require strong quadriceps contraction, like jumping, squatting, arising from a seated position, stair climbing, or running. Walking down stairs or running down hill seems to be more bothersome than going up.

Some athletes may have unconsciously learned to protect their knee by developing unnatural jumping mechanics. This could include landing with a more rigid knee, or allowing too much hip flexion. You may need to become more conscious of landing with the right amount of knee flexion with your foot in a neutral position and avoiding excessive hip flexion. Your doctor would be able to answer any questions you have about good jumping mechanics.

Patellar tendon straps, like a Cho-pat, can help reduce stress on your patellar tendon and relieve pain. Three fourths of the people who use patellar tendon straps for patellar tendinitis report improvement.

Patellar tendinopathy is treatable. Patients who follow a well-planned strengthening program show similar outcomes to those who have undergone surgery for the problem. Initially, you may need to decrease your training intensity to help protect your knee. You should stay away from activities that produce more than mild pain. You should avoid complete rest, as this could actually increase your risk of recurrence. Using ice packs or ice massage for 10-15 minutes at a time, especially following activity, may help to reduce inflammation.

Trigger points in the serratus anterior

The serratus anterior muscle is located along the sides of the ribs. It originates on the outer surface of the upper 8-9ribs, and inserts on the medial border of the scapula. This muscle acts on the scapula in several different ways. First it rotates the scapula to turn the glenoid fossa upward. It also protracted and elevates the scapula. And lastly it helps to prevent wining. This muscle is often shortened from prolonged sitting and work on a computer. Active trigger points in this muscle refer pain locally around the trigger point with spillover down the inside of the arm. Pain can also radiate into the inferior angle of the scapula.