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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Elbow pain and trigger points.

Did you know that tennis elbow and golfers elbow pain can be caused by trigger points? Points located in the forearm flexor and extensor muscles can cause pain, stiffness, and weakness in the elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand. Quite often these trigger point symptoms are mistaken for inflammation of the tendons which is what a true tennis/golfers elbow actually is. Failure to address the trigger points can lead to an incomplete recovery .

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.

Trigger points in the piriformis muscle

The piriformis muscle is a small muscle deep to glute max and lies over top of the sciatic nerve. It originates on the anterior sacrum, and inserts on the greater trochanter of the femur. It’s main action is to laterally rotate the femur. When trigger points developed in this muscle they will refer pain into the sacro-iliac region, across the posterior hip and down the leg. This muscle can also be a cause of sciatic nerve irritation if it gets tight, causing “sciatica” symptoms.

Trigger points in the gluteus medius muscle

The gluteus medius muscle plays an important role in hip and pelvic stability. It originates on the gluteal surface of the ilium, deep to the gluteus Maximus. It inserts on the greater trochanter of the femur. It’s main actions are to abduct the hip and to assist in internal rotation of the hip. It also maintains pelvic stability during walking and running. Trigger points in this muscle will refer pain into the sacrum, the iliac crest, and down the lateral hip and into the thigh. This muscle is often a cause of lower pack pain.