“Dr. Janet Travell treated President John F. Kennedy’s chronic back pain. Dr. Travell and her colleague, Dr. David Simons wrote “The Trigger Point Manual.” Their research shows that tiny contraction knots in our muscles and tissues, known as trigger points, are the primary cause of pain 75% of the time and a factor in almost every painful condition.
Trigger Points develop when an area of the body is injured or over-worked. For instance, a single event can initiate a trigger point, such as a car accident or a sports or work-related accident. Trigger points can also develop over time through muscle strain from repetitive movements at work or play, postural strain from standing or sitting improperly for long periods at the computer or in your car, emotional stress, anxiety, allergies, nutritional deficiencies, inflammation, and toxins in the environment.
The Trouble Trigger Points Cause
Trigger points cause muscles and tissues to tighten and shorten. These hyper-irritated hardened masses cause so much pain and tenderness that you alter the way you move, sit or stand to instinctively protect yourself. By limiting the use of the painful muscle, the muscle begins to weaken.
Your altered patterns of movement put abnormal stress on your muscles, ligaments and joints. This leads to strength and flexibility imbalances in your muscles as well as postural dysfunctions throughout your body.
This “use-abuse-disuse” scenario creates more trigger points in other areas and a vicious cycle begins. Before you know it, you’ve developed clusters of active and latent trigger points. You’ve also given up doing the things you love to do because it simply hurts too much.
Why Hasn’t My Doctor Explained This to Me?
Even though trigger points have been written about in medical journals for over 60 years, their treatment is sometimes associated with acupressure (an ancient Chinese medical process some doctors consider it a type of “quack” medicine).
Yet, trigger points have actually been photographed in muscle tissue with the aid of electron microscopes. (Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, Travell & Simons, 1999). Many doctors are still not aware of this.
To complicate matters further, a hallmark of trigger points is something called “referred pain.”
This means that trigger points typically send their pain to some other place in the body. This explains why so many conventional treatments fail.
Many health care professionals assume the problem is where the pain is. They never address the root cause of the problem – the actual trigger point that needs to be deactivated.
So, you could be feeling pain in your buttocks, hip or even down your leg but the actual trigger point needing to be released is located in your lower back.
Pain you feel down your arm or in your mid-back or even your neck starts with a trigger point in the muscles and tendons of your shoulder.”
I am always looking for pain relief modalities to help Sore Hand and TOS patients. I have discovered several excellent ones that go way beyond pills and surgery. I will be presenting a series of them in the near future. Make sure your physical therapist understands TOS and trigger points.
Phil La Puma