Trigger Point Therapy


What is Trigger Point Therapy?

Any surgeon will tell you that trigger points, are those spots or areas on the skin and in the muscle that, when activated or stimulated, cause pain and a radiating, throbbing impulse to distant areas. In the world of alternative therapy, however, the term trigger point gets a whole new, more comprehensive definition.

Trigger points, also known as muscle knots, are those areas of tenderness in a muscle that represent the problem areas associated with pain and debilitating illness. Trigger point therapy is a branch of alternative medicine that deals with the correct stimulation and treatment of pain associated with trigger points in the body.


History of Trigger Point Therapy

In Western medicine, documented research on trigger points dates back to 1841. However, most references give credit to Janet Travell, M.D., for the most extensive clinical research on Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy.

Dr. Janet Travell was the White House physician during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. She treated President Kennedy for debilitating myofascial pain that threatened to end his political career before he entered the White House. Janet Travell first coined the term "myofascial trigger point" in print in 1942. She co-authored several books with David Simons, MD, who continues to promote research about trigger points and to update their works as more research and information surfaces. Most people consider these books the definitive reference on trigger point therapy.

In Oriental medicine, practitioners have practiced acupressure to relieve pain for thousands of years. Leon Chaitow, O.D. has published a great deal of information on European-based neuromuscular technique (NMT) and trigger point therapies. He recently joined with American NMT practitioners to publish more comprehensive references on NMT and Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy, incorporating both American and European techniques.

Dr Janet Travell divided trigger points into two types: active and latent trigger points. Pressure is applied on the trigger points in order to relieve the pain which is associated with debilitation and illness.


How Does Trigger Point Therapy Work?

In our modern society, most illnesses are caused by stress, bad posture and over exertion. These can lead to the formation of muscle knots, or trigger points, which then lead to pain and illness. Swelling and stiffness are also often caused, along with severe pain.

Trigger point therapy is used with or without massage therapy in order to eliminate the pain. Increased flexibility, muscle coordination and an increased range of motion are all beneficial side effects of trigger point therapy.

Pressure is applied in a systematic manner on all the identified trigger points over a course of a few appointments. Trigger point therapy aims to release myofascial tension.


Example of a Trigger Point condition

To illustrate the process, here's an example of how one trigger point in one muscle can cause back pain, sciatica, or a herniated disc.

The most common place for a trigger point is in the muscle of the lower back called the quadratus lumborum (QL), which is located just above your hips. Regardless of what kind of event sparks the trigger point, your QL will gradually become dysfunctional - that is, the QL will tighten and shorten. And as you limit its use, it will weaken.

As the QL becomes increasingly dysfunctional, it will alter the position of the pelvis. As the pelvis becomes dysfunctional, it will force the spine into an abnormal curvature that will put abnormal pressure on the disc. Over time, the disc will begin to bulge. This situation will get progressively worse, affecting your overall quality of life. Depression often follows. All of this from a single event that occurred in one moment in time.


Do You Have Trigger Points?

therapy imageEveryone has trigger points, the question is what degree of effect they cause. If you have lingering pain, tightness, or restriction of certain movements, it is likely that you are experiencing the effects of a trigger point.

Trigger points may produce symptoms as diverse as dizziness, earache, sinusitis, nausea, heartburn, heart arrhythmia, genital pain, and numbness in the hands and feet.

Trigger points can bring on headaches, neck and jaw pain, low back pain, sciatica, tennis elbow, and carpal tunnel syndrome. They can be the source of joint pain in the shoulder, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle that is often mistaken for arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, or ligament injury.

For detailed information, we recommend reading the book Why We Hurt: A Complete Physical & Spiritual Guide to Healing Your Chronic Pain, by Dr. Greg Fors, in which he explains precisely why so many different conditions are rooted in trigger points.


The Advantages of Trigger Point Therapy

There are many advantages of this form of therapy. These include:
  • Resolution of the source of pain from its root, rather than just the symptomatic relief provided by allopathic medicines
  • Enhanced circulation and blood flow throughout the body
  • Decreased stiffness in the muscles
  • Decreased pain
  • Improved posture with patient education and continued assessment
  • Provision of relief from tension and muscle pain
Trigger point therapy, like many other types of alternative medicine, has not found universal acceptability, especially with the physicians who practice allopathic medicine. However, Dr Travel has published over forty well researched papers on the subject, and the results show for themselves how successful this therapy is.


What we offer and where

Our clinics in Cambridgeshire and London offer Acupuncture, Osteopathy, Naturopathy, Trigger Point Therapy, Sports Injury and Deep Tissue Massage treatments for an extensive range of conditions.

Our Sawtry clinic covers a wide area from Peterborough to Huntingdon and St. Neots, while at the Steeple Morden clinic we receive patients from Baldock and Royston, plus Ashwell and all over North Herts.

From Deeping St James, our most rural clinic attracts patients from Stamford, Spalding and Peterborough.