This is a system of pain management with which even many medical doctors have little familiarization. Most folks are somewhat familiar with or have at least heard of acupuncture, but relatively few lay people are aware of the benefits of trigger point therapy.
Trigger Point Therapy was discovered and developed in the United States by Dr Janet Travell, a brilliant physician who “developed and popularized the diagnosis and treatment of myofascial pain syndrome secondary to trigger points.” (1)
In order to avoid tedious technical jargon which is difficult for most lay people to understand, care will be taken to avoid such lengthy medical terms whenever possible. However, in order to understand how Trigger Point Therapy works, you should have a basic understanding of what it is.
“Myofascial Pain Syndrome (or MPS) is a term used to describe one of the conditions characterized by chronic, and in some cases, severe, pain. It is associated with and caused by “trigger points” (TrPs), which are localized and sometimes extremely painful contractures (‘knots’) found in any skeletal muscle of the body.” (2)
“Trigger points or trigger sites are described as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. Trigger point researchers believe that palpable nodules are small contraction knots and a common cause of pain.” (3)
The basic tenet of Dr Travell’s is to locate the trigger point or points responsible for the patient’s pain, treat the irritability of the trigger point through various means, and the pain will often dissipate and even disappear completely.
Dr Travell, in association with Dr David Simons, wrote Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, which is the master reference book that medical providers worldwide use to treat pain related to irritated trigger points.
The following are some of the conditions that may be successfully treated with Trigger Point therapy: Abdmominal pain, achilles tendonitis, ankle sprain and pain, ankylosing spondylitis, lower and upper back pain, bell’s palsy, busitis, calf pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, cervical spondylosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, muscular chest pain, coccyx injury, costocondritis, dupuytren’s contracture, earache, elbow pain, facial neuralgia or tic, facial pain, fibromyalgia, finger pain, foot pain, ganglion, gout, groin injury, hamstring injury, hand pain and stiffness, head pain including headaches, heel pain, hernia, hip pain, intercostal Neuralgia, knee pain, runner’s knee, lower and upper leg pain, mandibular pain, menstrual cramps, metatarsalgia, migraine, muscle cramps, muscle sprains, strained muscle, pulled muscle, neck pain, pelvic pain, osteoarthritis, peripheral neuropathy in hands and feet, post operative pain, prolapsed disc in lower back, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, scoliosis, shin splints, shingles, frozen shoulder, shoulder pain, spondylosis, temporo-mandibular pain, tendonitis, thigh pain, thumb pain, trigger thumb, and wrist pain. (4)
(1) Wikipedia. Janet G Travell, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_G._Travell, retrieved 10-18-2009.
(2) Wikipedia, Myofascial pain syndrome, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myofascial_pain_syndrome, retrieved 10-18-2009.
(3) Wikipedia, Trigger point, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigger_points, retrieved 10-18-2009.
(4) Natural Health, Pain Management in the 21st Century, pp 55-210, Bruce R Hocking.