About 23 million persons, or 10 percent of the U.S. population, have one or more chronic disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
~DAVID J. ALVAREZ, D.O., and PAMELA G. ROCKWELL, D.O., University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan~
WHAT IS A TRIGGER POINT?
Myofascial trigger points are tiny contraction knots that develop in a muscle when it is injured or overworked. It can cause tenderness, swelling sharp and shooting pain in area affected. A trigger point is caused by accumulation of waste products around nerve receptor(s).
The defining symptom of a trigger point is referred pain; that is, trigger points usually send pain to some other part of the body. This is why sometimes conventional forms of treatment fail. Doctor Janet Travell and Doctor David Simons research has shown that trigger points are the primary cause of pain 75% of the time and are at least a part of nearly every pain problem.
Trigger points can cause headaches, neck and jaw pain, low back pain, tennis elbow, and carpal tunnel syndrome. They are the source of the pain in such joints as the shoulder, wrist, hip, knee and ankle that is so often mistaken for arthritis, tendinitis, 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. Even Fibromyalgia may have its beginnings with Myofascial trigger points.
HOW THE THERAPIST WORKS OUT THE TRIGGER POINTS
The therapist will palpitate and compress to warm the muscle tissues. Then the therapist will apply pressure to the Trigger Point area and ask the client if they feel tenderness, referred pain or sharpness sensations. The therapist may ask the client to rate the degree of tenderness from 1-5. 1 being moderate and 5 being severe. Pressure is usually applied 10 to 30 seconds and up to three times per trigger point. Usually the client feels immediate relief in pain and pressure in the affect area.
*Communication is vital to a Trigger point session. If you feel extreme pain and discomfort, please inform the therapist and he or she will adjust the technique.
THE BALL EXERCISES/STATIC RELEASE
What if I cant get to a massage therapist?
One of the best tips I have told my clients is to buy a firm, rubber ball to work out trigger points. You can buy the ball at your local supermarket or pet food store. A Kong ball works great. Also you may choose to buy a Thera Cane or The Knobble. The Thera Cane or Knobble can be bought online or at a massage supply store.
Place the ball in a tube sock (prevents slipping when working out trigger point). Then you want to lean against the wall or lie on the ball, rotate and then press firmly on the trigger point (tender area) for 10 to 20 seconds. You can repeat multiple times without hurting yourself. This may take a few times to alleviate the trigger point. Just keep trying and it will eventually work itself out. Remember you cannot hurt yourself. Each time that your press on the trigger point or knot, the body will release natural pain relievers called endorphin's. Every time you press on the area the pain and tenderness will start to decrease.
By following these simple steps, you can help reduce trigger point formations between massages.
Suzan Walker, LMT, CR, LDT
Connective Integration Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is not a substitution for medical treatment. The massage therapist cannot diagnose, treat or prevent disease. The therapist can only recommend products and services. Please consult a medical physician.