The options for alternative medicine therapies continue to grow in Western Medicine and the benefits are nearly innumerable. One of the more impressive therapies in the growing field of alternative medicine is Trigger Point Therapy, also referred to as Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy. It was developed in the 1940s by Dr. Janet Travell in the United States as a way to treat pain and pain related conditions.
Trigger Point Therapy is largely based on the idea that pain in one part of the body can be accredited to injury or dysfunction in a separate part of the body. This occurs via “trigger points” where pain will radiate from one area to the rest of the body. By locating the trigger point for an issue the therapist is able to address and correct the pain by addressing the cause.
There are two types of trigger points. Latent and Active. Latent trigger points are essentially areas in the body that produce pain when they are touched. Active trigger points are areas in the muscle tissue are causing pain constantly. Many people have them but are not aware of what they are. When someone refers to having a “knot” in their muscles or back they are referencing a trigger point. They have a variety of causes linked to their development, some are avoidable and some are not. Some theories of the more common trigger point causes include deficiency in vitamin B6, food allergies, poor posture, digestive tract diseases and ulcer, child birth trauma, and even hypoglycemia.
While there are a number of conditions and factors that can create these trigger points in the body, there are even more conditions that may be successfully treated using this alternative therapeutic method. Pain associated with the head and neck such as TMJ, headaches, and migraines have been successfully treated with Trigger Point Therapy. Other conditions such as lower back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and injuries associated with sports may also see improvements with this form of therapy.
In its early development Travell would address these trigger points by injecting saline and Novocain into the trigger point. This method proved to be effective, but painful. In the 1970s an exercise therapist, Bonnie Prudden, discovered that by applying prolonged pressure to these trigger points within the muscle belly some amount of pain relief could be accomplished.
In a Trigger Point Therapy session today the patient should expect to visit a healthcare professional who has been trained in the field. They are generally referred to a therapist with this training by their primary care physician, but this does not have to be the case.
During a session the practitioner will take a detailed history of the patient’s past injuries, work history, and physical activity history such as sports played or regular exercises performed. The patient will then have the opportunity to go into detail about the pain they are experiencing. The practitioner will then begin to address trigger point associated with the area of pain the patient is experiencing.
Once they practitioner is able to isolate the trigger point they will then either inject the site with lidocaine or saline, probe the area with a dry need as if performing acupuncture. In Myotherapy they will apply sustained pressure with their fingers, elbows, or knuckles for a prolonged amount of time, generally several seconds.
The patient should expect to experience immediate relief of their pain, but follow up visits may be necessary for lasting results. The patient will be taught a series of exercises to be performed as maintenance and to retrain the muscles in an attempt to prevent future pain from recurring.
Non-Invasive Trigger Point Therapy should only be performed by a practitioner who has been trained in the field. These practitioners are generally professionals such as chiropractors, massage therapists, or acupuncturist. This form of alternative medicine can be categorized as musculoskeletal medicine. This form of medicine is commonly associated with the aches and pains that have no clear cause. This pain is designated to the generic field of “chronic pain” and is essentially left unstudied by modern medicine. Because muscles have gone without extensive research in their relationship to sickness and disease trigger points have gone essentially unnoticed by traditional medicine as well, as they are located within the muscles.
However, chronic pain is becoming an epidemic in today’s society and trigger points may be the key to unlocking the healing and relief many sufferers desire.
Dr. Kaminsky treats Trigger Points with Vibrational Sound Therapy, which is a finely tuned tuning fork that vibrates at its base a crystal point, when activated. This activated point is then placed on the trigger point and healing is elicited.