Will Trigger Point Therapy Help with your Pain?
A COMMON SOURCE OF PAIN. Modern medicine has many important results to its credit and I am an admirer. But many people have had pain that couldn’t be resolved by their doctor or chiropractor. While pain from inflamation is often treated successfully with ibuprofen and related drugs, many common pains are not inflammations. Rather their source is a condition in muscle tissue known as a trigger point. Trigger points can be treated by manual therapies that don't require drugs, surgery, or injections. (Physicians can resolve trigger points by injection if they know how to locate them.)
TYPES OF PAIN. Trigger point therapy is effective for a great variety of pains, but not all. Here are some markers that help distinguish trigger point pain:
-- If pain is from a specific incident or has built up over time (and is not in the gut), trigger point therapy will probably help.
-- Trigger point pain is usually of the dull aching variety rather than stabbing or throbbing. Some trigger point pain, however, is stabbing, as lower back pain from trigger points in the quadratus lumborum can be, or neck pain from twisting the head when there are trigger points in the levator scapulae. In the event of throbbing pain one should see a physician.
-- Trigger point pain entails less freedom of movement in the part of the body which is affected.
-- Pain from trigger points generally increases when you strain the involved muscle. Thus it often gets worse as the day goes on. But note that sleeping in certain positions also puts stress on important muscles. Therefore trigger points can cause you to wake up too early, or wake up with a backache, pain in your neck, etc.
-- If the pain is accompanied by swelling or redness you should consult a physician, not a trigger point therapist.
-- If the pain is accompanied by tingling sensations it would be logical to think of a neurologist, but trigger point therapy can often help in these cases too. For example, unusually taut muscles caused by trigger points can pinch nerves. And, as noted in the Other Symptoms section in the "About Trigger Points" page, trigger points in some muscles do cause numbness, tingling and even burning sensations.
Headaches, even ones you've had for 10 or 20 years, can usually be treated effectively with trigger point techniques. Headache treatments alone would be enough to make all the work and research that has gone into developing trigger point therapy worthwhile. But on the other hand, trigger point treatments for low back pain, hip pain, shoulder or neck pain would also make all this research more than worthwhile. The list is long.
EFFECTIVE THERAPY FOR SEVERE PAIN. Trigger point pain, whether referred elsewhere or not, can be severe – so severe that a person bends over and can’t straighten up, so severe that he or she can’t walk or type. In extreme cases trigger point pain has led people to consider suicide. But despite the occasional severity of trigger point pain, despite that fact that many people may have endured it for years, it is usually not difficult to treat by a skilled practitioner using one or more manual techniques.
TRIGGER POINT THERAPY USUALLY WORKS (BUT NOT ALWAYS). People can suffer a great deal of pain following candida and other infections, cancers, organ dysfunctions, allergies, metabolic disorders, and other systemic conditions. When such conditions are present myofascial trigger point therapy can often help (because myofascial pain is part of the overall picture), but does not offer to cure the underlying condition. A good trigger point therapist can usually -- though not always -- make the patient more comfortable (but sometimes not even that.)
These caveats being stated, it's fair to say that trigger point therapists substantially help most people who come to them. Although non-physician trigger point therapists cannot resolve serious medical problems, what they can do, and what they are especially good at, is relieving pain that seems to have no identifiable medical cause. Often they succeed in getting rid of pain endured for years that has not yielded to a variety of medical specialities. For the treatment to take full effect patients often need to take action themselves, for example, doing recommended stretches or improving posture during certain activities. All trigger point therapists I have talked to report occasionally achieving total relief for seemingly difficult pain -- pain perhaps endured for months -- in just one treatment. I've certainly seen this happen in my practice. But in most cases several treatments are required.
FAST, SAFE AND DIAGNOSTIC. Trigger point therapy usually gives at least partial relief quickly, surprising most patients. This means that both therapist and patient understand early on whether further trigger point work is appropriate. This knowledge can save time, money and worry. In addition to its quick action, trigger point therapy won't harm you (when done by a properly trained practitioner). This outstanding safety profile is an important feature of trigger point therapy.
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This page is part of a larger website intended to educate people about trigger point bodywork and other methods of non-invasive, drug-free pain relief. Myofascial therapy was developed by physicians in the last few decades. Its primary purpose is to eliminate myofascial pain, but it also improves movement and posture.
I offer myofascial treatment and pain management services for the Clark, Cranford, Westfield, Summit area of central NJ, though I am not immediately nearby. If you live in a town such as Short Hills, Scotch Plains, Hillside or Kenilworth NJ I would still be the closest certified therapist. Mountainside, Roselle, Watchung and North Plainfield NJ also fall into this category, as do Avenel, Colonia, Fords and Metuchen NJ, and much of the rest of New Jersey. Somewhat distant towns are mentioned because I have seen many times that people are glad to travel even several hours to get rid of pain. If you live elsewhere you may be able to find a practitioner nearby.
Copyright 2007 Joseph Hoane