Trigger Point Release

trigger pointsWhat is a Trigger Point? According to Saleet Jafri, M. who wrote Mechanisms of Myofascial Pain, a trigger point is a focal area in muscle that appears stiff and hypercontracted and is particularly painful when palpated. It is also ”a focus of hyperirritability in a tissue that, when compressed, is locally tender and, if sufficiently hypersensitive, gives rise to referred pain and tenderness”, according to Bond, C., who authored Massage + Trigger Points.

How does a Trigger Point forms?

  • Muscle overload causes an abnormal release of acetylcholine (from dysfunction in motor end plates)
  • Influx of Ca into the sarcomeres in the affected area- causing sarcomeres to contract
  • Sarcomere contraction causes increased tension of the muscle fiber which is seen as taut band found in myofascial trigger point
  • The taut band is thought to constrict blood flow which can lead to local hypoxia
  • Prolonged hypoxia leads to muscle injury and stimulation of nociceptors in the muscle
  • The end result is tenderness and pain observed in myofascial trigger points

Trigger points affect people who may have muscle overuse due to lifting heavy objects, sustained repetitive activities, poor ergonomics, improper postural positioning, fatigue, muscle trauma, psychological stress, and lack of exercise.

The symptoms of the presence of Trigger Point may include pain, referred pain, impaired ROM, muscle weakness, loss of coordination and local twitch response upon palpation.

Treatment options include:

  • Massage
  • Stretching
  • Dry Needling
  • Electrical Stimulation
  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Trigger Point Release

But what is Trigger Point Release? Trigger Point release is a form of soft tissue therapy that involves applying sustained pressure into the connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. Holding it for approximately 8-12 seconds and only at a 5/10 level of pain until the patient experiences decrease in symptoms. The sustained compression is what will help to alleviate the trigger point! If you only hold for a short period of time and don’t continue with the treatment, the shortened nodule within the muscle will return to its previous state and very little benefit will be gained.

But, trigger points are not usually the ONLY problem. They are usually part of a bigger problem that has to do with other soft tissue dysfunctions.

By: Rhia Vista, PTA

Posted in: Physical Therapy

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