Over the years between sports and exercise, I had developed many nagging aches and pains that I accepted as “part of the process”. I went to see all the medical specialists and guru’s about how to relieve the pain. No one could give me any concrete solution or diagnosis, other than, “Quite working out so much”. Wow, I paid you how much to have you tell me that!!!!
So for years I would take my ibuprofen, my glucosamine and ice it. Nonetheless, I still had pain including an unnecessary surgery on my knee to have what’s called a “Lateral Release”. After suffering from back pain that was starting to effect my job as a personal trainer a friend introduced me to “Trigger Point” therapy, which helped me more in one treatment than everyone else combined.
So I put together some information to help everyone become familiar with it.
What is Myofacial Pain Syndrome?
A condition affecting the muscles and fascia surrounding it, in which there is not complete relaxation of the individual fibers in some muscles due to local chemical changes and trigger points. This in turn places stress on the muscles and joints, causing local or referred pain. Referred pain can be felt in a far distant area away from the actual site of the trigger points.
Why don’t more people and health care practitioners know more about Trigger Point Therapy?
Most healthcare professionals use conventional diagnostic equipment like, x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans and other radiological devices. Trigger points can only be detected by an individual who is trained in the Travell – Simon’s protocol. Most all-healthcare practitioners are not trained in this field because it takes time to evaluate the individual with symptoms and takes time to treat each muscle affected by trigger points.
What happens if goes undiagnosed?
Trigger points are not life threatening, we all have them, but if left untreated when painful, they can lead to chronic myofascial pain syndromes, which severely reduce the quality of life. In addition, the presence of trigger point pain and dysfunction mimics many well known and accepted conditions. This can lead to misdiagnosis and unnecessary surgeries for pain problems that are actually just caused by trigger points. Having these procedures can lead to large medical bills and complications from surgery. Two such examples are pain in the fingers and wrist diagnosed as ‘Carpal Tunnel’ when this pain could be caused by trigger points in a neck muscle, and ‘Low back/ Sciatica Pain’ diagnosed as needing surgery when the pain may just be getting referred from trigger points in a tight muscle in the abdomen or buttocks. .
Is it a safe form of treatment?
Yes, but there are certain areas on the body that the practitioner needs to take additional care in treating, but overall it is a highly effective, low cost, drug-free option for relieving pain and muscular problems. This form of treatment also improves muscle function, improves strength, sports performance and allows people to have pain free full range of movement.
Some conditions treatable by myofascial trigger point therapy include (but are not limited to):
- Lower and upper back pain
- Arm, elbow, hand & thumb pain & dysfunction
- Repetitive overuse injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tennis & Golfers Elbow, tendonitis and bursitis
- Overuse trauma from repetitive hobbies or careers ranging from musicians to construction workers to the keyboard warrior.
- Shoulder pain and dysfunction including rotator cuff ‘injuries’, frozen shoulder, winged scapula & thoracic outlet syndrome.
- Chronic head, neck and jaw pain & dysfunction including TMJ, tension headaches and migraine headaches
- Fibromyalgia and complicated regional and myofascial pain syndromes
- Knee pain & dysfunction
- Leg, ankle, foot and heel pain & dysfunction including plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and shin splints.
- Sports injuries
What is a typical treatment like and how soon can I expect results?
A typical office visit involves an in depth structural evaluation of the an individual’s body mechanics and symptoms as well as identification of perpetuating factors that may be aggravating the condition such as posture at the work place, sleep posture, general nutritional deficiencies, levels of stress and driving posture. Once these factors are identified and corrected, trigger point therapy uses a form of pressure point therapy involving heat, pressure during muscle lengthening and shortening for several seconds, each followed by light stretching and full range of motion. All therapeutic interventions are designed to get the muscle fibers and fascia to completely relax and be strong and pain free. Self-care compression and a daily home care program are taught to each person to maximize the muscle recovery.
How do I find a professional Trained in Trigger Point therapy?
Here in Illinois we have the Myo Pain Relief Centers that specialize specifically in Trigger Point Evaluation and therapy.(www.myopain.com)
If you want to search further you can go on the National Association of Trigger Point Therapists (NAMTPT) web site (www.myofascialtherapy.org) and do a search for your area. Many massage therapists are trained in Trigger Point Therapy but just be sure to verify they are certified in it and didn’t just do a weekend workshop. I am fully trained in Myofacial Trigger Point Release at the Myo school of Pain, in Chicago IL.
Hope that helps.
Remember to always check with your doctor first. If you don’t get any concrete answers, diagnosis, treatments or cures it’s time to look at other options. I’m so glad I did!