What exactly are Trigger Points and how can NMT help?

Trigger points are defined as highly irritible areas of skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in over stressed bands of muscle fibers. The palpable nodules are small contraction knots and a common cause of pain in each and every one of us. When a trigger point is compressed it may bring aboutvtenderness, referred pain, or even a local twitch response.

You can not talk about Trigger Points with discussing Janet G. Travell, the American physician who attended to president John F. Kennedy’s back pain back in the 1960’s.

Dr Travellpublished more than 40 papers on trigger point therapy and wrote the famousThe Trigger Point Manual that is still referred to by doctors, massage therapists and chiropractors today.

Notice what the work, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual states about trigger points:

  • “around 75% of pain clinic patients have a trigger point as the sole source of their pain.
  • The following conditions are often diagnosed (incorrectly) when trigger points are the true cause of pain: carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendinitis, angina pectoris, sciatic symptoms, along with many other pain problems.
  • Arthritis is often cited as the cause for pain even though pain is not always concomitant with arthritis. The real culprit may be a trigger point, normally activated by a certain activity involving the muscles used in the motion, by chronically bad posture, bad mechanics, repetitive motion, structural deficiencies such as a lower limb length inequality or a small hemipelvis, or nutritional deficiencies.”

What Triggers A Trigger Point?

Activation of trigger points may be caused by several things , including:

  • Constant muscle overload,
  • Activation by other trigger points
  • Disease
  • Psycho-emotional disorders
  • Homeostatic imbalances
  • Direct trauma to the region
  • Radiculopathy
  • Infections
  • Poor health choices such as smoking.

Did you know that trigger points can appear your muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joint capsule, periosteal, and scar tissue?

What Does Your Neuromuscular Massage Therapist Look For When He Is Searching For Trigger Points?

The biggest thing that a NMT will look for is to see if any hard nodule can be felt. Often a twitch response can be felt in the muscle by the NMT running their finger perpendicular to the muscle’s direction; this twitch response often causes the musle to contract. Pressing on an affected muscle can often refer pain to another area of the body.

Here is something of interest, there is often a difference in body heat in the local area of a trigger point. Fortunately, your massage therapist is trained to senses that.

Treatment For Trigger Points

Trigger points may be effectively treated by manual massage using deep pressure into the areas that are effected. It is not uncommon for the Therapist to use their elbows, feet or various tools to direct pressure directly upon the trigger point as well.

The most important thing though is identifying all of the trigger points,(Yes, there may be multiple trigger points in larger muscles) releasing them and the stretching or elongating them to prevent the muscles from returning to their original positions where trigger points are likely to re-develop again.

Some pain and soreness is to be expected after releasing these trigger point areas.

Learn about how pinched nerves affects your back pain.