Trigger Point Therapy and How to Perform Self Care
For some, it’s in their hip flexors, and for others, it’s in their shoulders. We all have that one spot on our body that causes us to involuntarily throw our arms up and shriek if too much pressure is applied.
Myofascial trigger points, better known as trigger points, are extremely sensitive spots in your muscle tissue that are expressed as small bumps inside of muscle fibers. They are especially noticeable if you have tight or continuously contracted muscles.
Left untreated, trigger points can create an unpleasant sensation that eventually progresses to soreness, stiffness, and pain. What’s more, some trigger points can promote dysfunction in the muscle tissue.
Let’s take a look at why it’s important to go through trigger point therapy, the best time to see a professional, and what you can do for self-care in between appointments.
Why Is It Important to Do Trigger Point Therapy?
Experts agree that trigger points can become more than bothersome points of soreness on the body. Trigger points are associated with the following symptoms, which often get worse the longer the condition isn’t addressed:
- Decreased circulation
- Nerve sensitivity
- Tension headaches
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle aches
- Sudden sharp pains
- Restricted movement
Regardless of whether you are going through athletic training or simply maintaining your current level of fitness, it’s important to address trigger points through one or several forms of therapy to optimize movement, function, and wellness.
Trigger Point Therapy: When to See a Professional
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it is important that you visit a professional who specializes in trigger point therapy.
Studies show that chiropractic treatment is one of the best ways to naturally alleviate and treat bothersome trigger points. Chiropractic treatment usually involves applying direct pressure on the trigger point while using a method called anchoring-and-stretching. This will help to release tension and shrink the trigger point. We also provide a specific protocol based on this technique called Active Release Technique (ART), which accomplishes this therapeutic index as well.
Clinical massage has been shown in several studies to effectively alleviate symptoms associated with trigger points and reduce the size of the nodule until it is gone. A clinical massage therapy session for trigger points may involve a mix of deep tissue pressure and rehabilitation-style movements such as taking your arm or leg through its complete range of motion while applying pressure to the trigger point.
Trigger point dry needling, commonly known as dry needling, is when a thin, sterile acupuncture needle is inserted into the trigger point. There is no other solution such as a nerve block in the needle (that’s why it’s called “dry”); it’s only the needle. Insertion of a needle into a trigger point is an excellent technique for treating myofascial trigger points. Studies show that dry needling is effective in reducing symptoms related to trigger points.
How to Perform Self Care (In Between Visits)
To ensure you don’t have any re-occurring issues with trigger points, you can perform some self-care until your next appointment with your chiropractor or massage therapist.
Self-myofascial release with a foam roller has become very popular in most commercial gyms. Taking a piece of foam or plastic, you roll out the muscle tissue until the trigger point releases. It’s not a replacement for professional chiropractic care or massage, but studies show that it’s great for alleviating trigger point soreness and pain.
You can perform a light self-massage on any trigger point that is tight, tense, or sore, and this will help to reduce symptoms until your next appointment.
Get Started with Trigger Point Therapy
While it’s sometimes ideal to combine all three types of treatment – chiropractic, massage, and dry needling – for optimal results, everyone will have a different treatment plan based on their individual needs. Give us a call today at 773-878-7330 to discuss your symptoms and the best course of treatment.
- Alvarez, David J., and Pamela G. Rockwell. “Trigger Points: Diagnosis and Management.” American Family Physician, 15 Feb. 2002, www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0215/p653.html.
- Vernon H, Schneider M. Chiropractic management of myofascial trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome: a systematic review of the literature. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2009 Jan;32(1):14-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2008.06.012.
- Moraska AF, Schmiege SJ, Mann JD, Butryn N, Krutsch JP. Responsiveness of Myofascial Trigger Points to Single and Multiple Trigger Point Release Massages: A Randomized, Placebo Controlled Trial. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2017;96(9):639–645. doi:10.1097/PHM.0000000000000728.
- Unverzagt C, Berglund K, Thomas JJ. DRY NEEDLING FOR MYOFASCIAL TRIGGER POINT PAIN: A CLINICAL COMMENTARY. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2015;10(3):402–418.