A trigger point is an area of bunched muscle fibers that are localized to a small region. Practitioners of trigger point therapy believe that these points can cause pain both in the area of the trigger as well as in other parts of the body. This is often called referred pain. Generally trigger points are thought to cause pain that cannot be explained through other means. Although many people believe that trigger points are a source of pain, there is little scientific evidence backing it.
A trigger site can be described in a number of different ways. In general, it is an area or point on a muscle that causes pain that can’t be attributed to other problems such as trauma or inflammation. In most cases, a trigger point can be physically felt through manipulation of the muscle. If the trigger point is pressed then it may also induce the same pain that the patient suffers from.
Although the trigger site method is used by a large number of different practitioners including massage therapists and chiropractors there is still no formal way of defining it. This is one of the reasons why many medical professionals are hesitant to take the therapy seriously. It has been shown, however, that with training a practitioner is usually able to spot trigger points efficiently.
Myofascial pain syndrome is the main theory behind trigger point therapy. This syndrome occurs when hyperirritable spots affect functions of the central nervous system. The pain that occurs as a result of this is thought to arise because of trigger points.
There are a number of different methods of treatment for trigger points. Therapies such as ultrasound and dry-needling are commonly used in order to try and “break down” the site. Massage therapy uses manual pressure in order to achieve the same goal. There are also a number of different techniques for self-treating trigger points through self massage. Self treatment usually involves using the elbow or knee to press on the points as the fingers can get tired relatively quickly.
Although in general treating a trigger point in order to try to reduce pain is safe, there are some situations where it may not be advisable. For example, if excess force is used by someone who isn’t trained then it can lead to damage to underlying organs. Some medical professionals also believe that trigger points are actually necessary for healthy function of some joints.