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 

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Trigger points in the adductor pollicis

The adductor pollicis is a muscle in the hand and acts on the thumb. It originates on the transverse head of the third metacarpal, the oblique head of the base of the second and third metacarpals, and the trapezoid and capitate bones. It inserts on the base of the proximal phalanx and ulnar sesamoid. This muscle acts to adduct and flex the thumb. Trigger points cause pain and aching along the outside of the thumb and hand, spillover pain may reach the thenar eminence.

Trigger points in the adductor longus.

The adductor longus is a muscle of the groin. It originates on the pubic body just below the pubic crest, and inserts on the middle third of the linea aspera of the femur. It acts on the hip joint to cause adduction and flexion. Distal Trigger points in this muscle refer pain to the upper medial knee and down the tibia. Proximal trigger points refer pain into the anterior hip. These trigger points are the most common muscular cause of groin pain.

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.

Bryan Cobb RMT.

Since 2005, Bryan has been dedicated to helping all people with chronic and acute pain caused by soft-tissue damage.

His training and experience make him uniquely qualified to treat a wide variety of pain and dysfunction and to give instruction on prevention and self-care.

Bryan is the only Massage Therapist in Manitoba — and one of the few in Canada — to be certified by the Certification Board for Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists (CBMTPT).

Bryan holds a degree as an Advanced Remedial Massage Therapist (ARMT) from the Massage Therapy College of Manitoba.  Course work at MTCM includes
• over 2,000 hours of practice, as well as
• intensive course work,
• a supervised clinical practicum, and
• community outreach placements.

MTCM has a credit transfer affiliation with the University of Winnipeg, ensuring that its courses are held to the highest level.  When Bryan studied at MTCM, the college was the only massage therapy college in western Canada accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation.  Today, the college is a member of the Canadian Council of Massage Therapy Schools.

Bryan is a member in good standing of the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada.

Bryan also has a background in Anatomy, Exercise Physiology, and Sport Sciences from the University of Manitoba, and he has worked as a personal trainer and fitness leader.

He is an avid natural bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast, and has a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Chondromalacia Patellae; sounds dramatic, usually isn’t.

The term “Chondromalacia Patellae” (CMP) describes painful damage to the cartilage behind your kneecap. CMP may begin at any age and is commonly found in teenagers. The likelihood of developing CMP increases with age, and the condition is more common in females. You are more likely to develop CMP if you are overweight or have had a prior knee injury.
One of the most common causes of CMP is an imbalance between the muscles that help to guide your kneecap and its “V-shaped” groove at the end of your thigh bone. Repeatedly flexing and extending a misaligned kneecap leads to pain, swelling, and eventually cartilage damage. Misalignment of the kneecap (patella) is often secondary to problems in your hip and foot, especially weakness of your gluteal muscles or flat feet.

CMP causes a dull pain behind your kneecap that is aggravated by prolonged walking, running, squatting, jumping, kneeling, stair climbing, or arising from a seated position. The pain is often worse when walking down hill or down stairs. Popping, grinding, or giving way may occur from long-standing misalignments.

Conservative care, like the type provided in this office, is generally successful at relieving your symptoms. It is important for you to minimize activities that provoke your pain, especially running, jumping, and activities that stress you into a “knock-knee” position. Do not allow your knees to cross in front of your toes when squatting. Some athletes may need to modify their activity to include swimming or bicycling instead of running. Performing your home exercises is one of the most important things that you can do to help recover. The use of home ice or ice massage applied around your kneecap for 10-15 minutes, several times per day, may be helpful.