A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. A trigger point in the back, for example, may produce referral pain in the neck. The neck, now acting as a satellite trigger point, may then cause pain in the head. The pain may be sharp and intense or a dull ache.
Trigger point massage therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release. In this type of massage for trigger point therapy, the recipient actively participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort.
The results and benefits of trigger point massage are releasing constricted areas in the muscles thus alleviating pain. You can experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment. Receiving massage with trigger point therapy on a regular basis can help naturally manage pain and stress from chronic injuries.
Trigger point therapy was developed by Dr. Janet Travell in the United States in the 1940s; she is credited with having first used the phrase "trigger point" in print in 1942. Through her work and events in her personal life, Travell advanced the theory that pain experienced in one part of the body is actually caused by an injury or dysfunction in another part of the body. Ultimately, she mapped what she termed the body's trigger points and the manner in which pain radiates to the rest of the body. Travell's work came to national attention when she treated President John F. Kennedy for his back pain.
Trigger points are thought to result from a variety of causes, including birth trauma, hypoglycemia , vitamin B6 deficiency, food allergies , traumatic injuries, poor posture, skeletal asymmetry, overexertion, or such diseases of the digestive tract as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome . During times of physical or emotional stress , the points cause muscles to spasm. Travell's therapy called for the injection of saline (a salt solution) and procaine (also known as Novocaine, an anesthetic) into the trigger point. Although beneficial in the relief of pain, the injections are a painful procedure for some people.
In the 1970s, Bonnie Prudden, a physical fitness and exercise therapist, found that applying sustained pressure to a trigger point also relieved pain. Prudden developed her techniques over a number of years and called the treatments myotherapy. Myotherapy is beneficial to patients who find that trigger point injections are too painful.
Trigger point therapy is said to interrupt the neural signals that cause both the trigger point and the pain. The object is to eliminate pain and to reeducate the muscles into pain-free habits. In this manner, the swelling and stiffness of neuromuscular pain is reduced, range of motion is increased, and flexibility and coordination are improved. The therapy can also relieve tension and improve circulation.
The list of conditions that benefit from trigger point therapy include arthritis; carpal tunnel syndrome ; chronic pain in the back, knees, and shoulders; headaches; menstrual cramps; multiple sclerosis ; muscle spasms, tension, and weakness; postoperative pain; sciatica ; temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ); tendinitis ; and whiplash injuries.