A Comprehensive Guide on Trigger Points and Myofascial Pain

In 2016, there were up to 50 million cases of chronic pain among adults in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Chronic pain is one of the primary reasons most people go for physical therapy sessions and medical care. Massage therapy has proved to be effective in helping people deal with medical conditions that involve pain as a primary symptom. 

That said, trigger points can be implicated in a wide range of conditions such as sciatica, back pain, frozen shoulder, and more that involve chronic pain. Myofascial pain also involves chronic pain in your muscles, mostly due to repetitive motion from stress-related muscle tension or activities in your day-to-day job. 

Read on to learn more about trigger points, their implications on myofascial pain and how massage therapy can help.

What are Trigger Points?

Trigger points are muscle knots or a localized spasm in your muscle fiber, usually under your skin. If you press on these trigger points, you may not feel any pain or discomfort. However, when the trigger points become sensitive, it results in pain in some people. 

If you’ve ever had a Charlie horse in your muscle, where the entire muscle has a painful spasm, a gentle muscle stretch is the only thing that seems to help. When it comes to trigger points, you experience painful cramps in small portions of the muscle. More trigger points can lead to intense pain and a lack of muscle mobility. For instance, you may feel like you have arthritis when the bicep muscle becomes too tight for you to straighten your arm. With time, the stress on the inside of the elbow joint leads to pain and inflammation.  

Where do People Get Trigger Points?

Muscle knots can occur wherever there is muscle tissue in your body. The excessive occurrence of trigger points can lead to chronic pain and myofascial pain. Some of the areas where trigger points mostly occur include:

  • Lower back
  • Calf muscles
  • Hamstrings
  • Upper trapezius muscles
  • Along the iliotibial band

What About Myofascial Pain?  

Myofascial pain syndrome is a muscle pain condition that affects the musculoskeletal system, leading to pain and inflammation in the soft tissues. This condition can affect a single tissue or a muscle group. Sometimes, the areas where you experience pain might not be the specific location of the myofascial pain generator. The exact location of the injury leads to the development of trigger points that leads to pain.

Some of the common symptoms of myofascial pain are:

  • Stiff, weak, and inflexible muscles and some with reduce motion
  • Increase in pain when the affected area is strained or stretched
  • Chronic pain in the localized areas
  • Muscle pain that doesn’t improve with time
  • Sleep disturbance

How Does Massage Therapy Help?

If you suffer from either of these painful conditions, massage therapy sessions can help manage the pain. Physical therapy that focuses on trigger points helps manage pain and determines the underlying body mechanics that lead to painful muscle knots. Professional therapists can use different therapy treatment options, including:

  • Massage
  • Dry needling
  • Kinesiology taping
  • Therapeutic modalities such as electrical stimulation or ultrasound
  • Exercises that can assist in changing your posture and body movement

On the other hand, myofascial release is effective in treating myofascial pain. Myofascial release aims at reducing pain by easing the tightness and tension in your body’s trigger points. Since it’s difficult to localize pain to a particular trigger point, myofascial release is often utilized in a broad muscle area instead of just a single point. 

How Does Myofascial Release Work?

A therapist will give you a gentle massage focused on the myofascial areas that feel tightened or stiff. Usually, a normal myofascial feels elastic and pliable. The therapist should stretch and massage all the areas with a rigid feeling by applying manual light pressure. This way, the therapist aids the supportive sheath and body tissues in releasing the tightness and pressure. This procedure is repeated multiple times, aimed at the same trigger points and other pain points until the massage therapist is confident that the tension is fully released.  

However, therapists might not focus on where the pain originates or where you often feel the most pain. Myofascial release works on the broader tissue network that may have lead to pain. Therefore, it works by reducing tension in your body and releasing trigger points across your muscular system.

Who Can Benefit from Myofascial Release?

If you suffer from myofascial pain, these massage sessions can be of great benefit. Myofascial release can also benefit people who experience chronic headaches. Having gentle massages around your neck and head helps reduce tension on tightened muscles, thereby reducing headaches. Also, people who suffer from venous insufficiency can benefit from myofascial release sessions and other medical treatments. Massage therapy sessions help reduce blood pooling, which can cause vein damage in the legs.

Why Opt for Massage Sessions for Your Trigger Points?

One of the advantages of massage therapy is its holistic approach to pain relief. Although there may be other treatment options, they might not address all the areas where you feel predominant pain. Also, you may feel pain in a particular area, but the source is on a different site. Massage therapists understand the relationship between the muscles that impact a specific joint. As a result, they will know the muscle to focus on to treat the subsequent muscles effectively.

Importantly, massage therapists focus on tendons and insertions to determine referral patterns of your trigger points to know the origin of your pain. They then apply pressure on these points to release the spasm.

Consult Professional Massage Therapist in Northern Kentucky

If you experience myofascial pain or muscle knots, don’t panic. You can get help from the Sanctuary of Integrated Wellness Center in Northern Kentucky to help reduce the chronic pain in your body. A physical therapist will help treat the trigger points in your muscles. An active treatment program can make a huge difference in reducing the pain in your trigger points. You will also learn some strategies on how to self-manage your pain at home.

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