What is myofascial trigger point therapy?
- Each patient must undergo a thorough evaluation in which muscles with trigger points are identified, along with identification of likely physical, mechanical, biochemical or behavioral perpetuating factors that predispose the muscles to activation of trigger points.
- Treatment includes myofascial trigger point compression, in which the therapist presses tolerably on the trigger point to release it, removing the distant pain pattern, and then stretches the muscle to return its fibers to normal functional length. This reestablishes normal range of motion and strength, and it prevents the muscle from activating other muscles’ trigger points within its functional and sensory range. Therapists rely on knowledge of referred myofascial pain patterns to guide their treatment. The therapist then works on all other affected musculature within the patient’s pattern. For example, if a patient has index finger pain, they treat not only the finger muscles but also muscles in the hand, arm, shoulder, back and neck that refer pain to that finger. Therapist may also utilize other soft-tissue mobilization techniques such as myofascial release, Swedish massage or hot/cold therapy.
- One of the most important parts of successful trigger point therapy, and one of the most significant to the patient, is extensive training in self-care techniques. Each patient is taught to release their own trigger points as much as possible, and then is trained in stretching and strengthening customized to their pain pattern, condition and lifestyle. Patients are trained in use of self-care tools such as tennis or pinky balls, backnobbers, physiotherapy balls or rollers or others. This assures the patient more capability and self-responsibilty for their own well-being. It is absolutely true that pain is a powerful motivator to learn to treat oneself, and learning these skills allows each person to be able to “fix” their own pain when it flares up, and eventually to prevent it altogether.