Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger Point Therapy (NMT)

Trigger points are myofascial tissue (the fibrous tissue that encloses and separated layers of muscles) where the local circulation has been impeded to the extent that they are held in contracture. They are intensely painful and can be characterised by referred pain patterns. The trigger point forms characteristic referral pain patterns for an individual muscle that is held in undue stress for long periods. The subsequent pain can be managed by releasing them. The patterns of referred pain and common sites of trigger point formation across the human body have been mapped out, and often correspond with acupuncture points and channels.

Trigger points are the primary cause of pain 75% of the time and are at least a part of nearly every pain problem. Trigger point therapy can be used on acute pain, chronic pain, and tight muscles. Trigger points cause headaches, neck and jaw pain, tennis elbow, and carpal tunnel syndrome. They are the source of pain in such joints as the shoulder, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle that is so often mistaken for arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, or ligament injury. Trigger points also cause symptoms as diverse as dizziness, earaches, sinusitis, nausea, heartburn, false heart pain, heart arrhythmia, genital pain, and numbness in the hands and feet. Furthermore, fibromyalgia may have its beginnings with myofascial trigger points.

Trigger Point Therapy works on a deep level and is often used as part of a Deep Tissue Massage treatment. We have Trigger Points throughout the entire body. When massaging a client, I might notice an area of muscle tightness, tension or irregularity. This area is normally a point of more pain for the client. The muscle tissue here can feel more dense than other areas and often it refers pain to another area of the body. Referred pain is one of the defining symptoms of a myofascial trigger-point. Through the use of palpation, an exploration of an area, I might be able to pinpoint an area or trigger point in a muscle area or can do with the client's guidance of pain point awareness. It is usual to ask the client to report the level of pain or discomfort experienced with pressure on an area on a sliding scale of 1-5 or 1-10. Once an area has been found, pressure with thumbs or an elbow are slowly and carefully applied as too much pressure will cause severe pain and the muscle will tighten, then the technique will not work. Once the point is found, pressure is applied within the client's pain tolerance, held for around 90 seconds, released briefly and reapplied. Often breathing exercises help with pain and discomfort during this relieving therapy.

A muscle may be held in a tight position by occupational, emotional, habitual or postural factors. As time goes on, this tension can naturally increase, making it uncomfortable to stretch or relax a particular muscle - this causes tension in the surrounding areas as the tissue pulls on surrounding tissues and joints. The individual will instinctively hold the muscle shorter to avoid discomfort until this becomes the new normal level of tension. All of this happens through the natural reflex action of the nervous system which is not consciously controlled. We can treat this problem by bringing it into the awareness and consciousness of the nervous system to stimulate recovery.

It is well researched and well understood that deep pressure in a tender spot will cause discomfort and/or pain. Deep pressure on the spot will make the client aware through the discomfort felt, which usually means that relief will be experienced psychologically, which can stimulate the recovery process. Additionally, when pressure is applied to the area, possibly due to the release of endorphins, the area is relaxed and therefore discomfort, pain and tension are reduced or eliminated. Furthermore, because the muscle tissue is tense and compressed, blood to the area is starved; once the pressure is released, blood carrying oxygen and nutrients rush into the area resulting in relaxation in the restricted muscle tissue. 

Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy

  • Releases pain across nearly every pain problem across the body

  • Relieves headaches 

  • Fewer headaches

  • Improves circulation

  • Relieves joint pain

  • Relieves muscle pain

  • Emotional trama relief

  • Physical trauma relief

  • Increases blood circulation

  • Removes waste products from the body

  • Breaks down adhesions and scar tissue

  • Relieves tight muscles

  • Reduces muscle spasm

  • Increases range of movement

  • Improves posture

  • Increased tissue hydration

  • Calming effect on the nervous system

  • Relieves musculoskeletal pain