What is a myofascial trigger point?
A myofascial trigger point, also known as a trigger point, is an irritable spot within a skeletal muscle that is felt within a taught band that is sensitive to the touch. The spot creates pain upon compression, gives rise to referred pain (pain that is felt somewhere other than the spot of compression) and twitching. Active trigger points can sometimes be accommodated by autonomic phenomena such as sweating, tearing and goosebumps for example.
Trigger points can be caused by overuse, injury, stress, muscle weakness just to name a few.
How can massage therapy help relieve trigger points?
Trigger point therapy is based on the principle of eliminating a trigger point within a muscle that may be the cause of your pain. Releasing an active trigger point can be uncomfortable, but once treated properly the pain should go away.
The key to understanding trigger points is that the place where you feel pain is consistent with the referral pattern for that muscle, and rarely is there pain in the muscle itself. For example, the upper trapezius muscle on the neck and shoulder, when trigger pointed, refers pain like a question mark into the forehead region at eye level. Someone who is experiencing a headache around the eye might simply have a trigger point in the upper trapezius muscle.
Massage therapists are trained at recognizing referral patterns so as to be familiar with all the muscles in the body and where they can refer pain.
Catherine Taman is a Registered Massage Therapist practicing in Toronto, Canada. She has a special interest in treating chronic pain, headaches, sports injuries and pregnancy related pain. To book an appointment with Catherine, visit rmtmassagetherapytoronto