Everything You Need to Know About Trigger Point Therapy

Myofascial trigger points are areas of tension in the muscles and fascia of the body. They can develop anywhere and are often painful. Extreme cases can be debilitating and cause a loss of range of motion. Injury, overuse, or trauma to a muscle can lead to the development of a trigger point. Infections, electrolyte imbalances, and inflammation can also cause a trigger point to appear.

How Does Trigger Point Pain Develop?  

Trigger point pain develops in and around the muscles of the body. Muscles are soft tissues responsible for helping you move. Fascia is a connective tissue made mostly of collagen that surrounds the muscles, organs, nerves, and other body parts. Its primary purpose is to support the body and help hold everything together. When muscles contract, stretch, or move, the surrounding fascia is affected too. It can bunch up and stick together, forming adhesions, causing pain, and restricting the range of motion.

Trigger points develop in muscles and the associated fascia. You can think of a trigger point as a tiny muscle cramp, similar to the “charlie horses” that many people get in their calves. The contraction of the muscle tissue restricts blood flow. The lack of nutrition further aggravates the muscle, causing pain. While patients feel pain at the trigger point, the discomfort often refers or radiates pain to other areas of the body. For example, a trigger point in the abdomen may manifest as pain in the lower back. A trigger point in the neck or shoulders can manifest as a headache. When a cluster of severe trigger points occur together, the diagnosis is myofascial pain syndrome or MPS, and the resulting pain can leave a person disabled in extreme cases.

What Are the Symptoms of Trigger Point Pain?  

Pain in the body comes from many different sources, but trigger point discomfort does have some distinctive symptoms. Chiropractors look for these traits to make a definitive diagnosis.

  • Sensitive, sore areas of the body, especially muscles

  • Pain radiating from a center point into a specific area of the body

  • Deep, nagging, dull, or aching pain in the muscles that is distinctive from pain in the joints such as arthritis

  • Pain that re-emerges often and lasts for several weeks or months, especially after exposure to heavy exercise or temperature extremes

  • Weakness, stiffness, or heaviness in your arms or legs

  • Pain that seems to move to other areas of the body, sometimes even from one side of the body to the other

  • Pain that does respond to massages, hot showers, or soaking baths but only temporarily

  • Pain that gets better when you exercise regularly and stay active

  • Pain not related to movement

If some of these characteristics describe the pain you are experiencing, then you may respond well to trigger point therapy. However, if you experience numbness, pain with movement, sharp pain, soreness that seems to permeate the body, or pain in the abdomen, trigger points are probably not the source. It’s important to remember that these are general statements, and you should always have the specifics of your situation reviewed by a healthcare provider you trust.

How Does Manual Trigger Point Therapy Work?  

Trigger point therapy, also called myofascial trigger point therapy, treats pain by various applications of pressure and release. Manual trigger point therapy involves using gentle but firm pressure to treat the painful points. This process is sometimes called “releasing” the trigger point. While that creates a mental picture of something that brings immediate relief, this kind of therapy isn’t always a quick fix. Instead, improved comfort usually comes over time as the applied pressure allows fluids to move back into the muscle and fascia. Trigger point therapy can help smooth out the wrinkles and adhesions in the fascia as it relaxes the muscles themselves.

Patients sometimes describe the treatments as uncomfortable at first, but most recognize significant improvement over the trigger point pain. Headaches, migraines, arthritis, carpal tunnel, and sciatica are just a few types of pain that may respond well to manual trigger point therapy.

How Should You Prepare for Your Therapy Session?  

Comfortable clothes and shoes are the best choices for your visit. A good rule of thumb is to wear something you would be comfortable exercising in. The patient’s participation in trigger point therapy is usually passive, but it is helpful for the chiropractor if they can move your body more efficiently. Drinking from a third to half of your body weight in ounces of water each day is a good practice. Doing so before, during, and after your sessions helps you recover and see the maximum benefits from your treatments.

What Happens at a Trigger Point Therapy Session?  

The chiropractor will likely start by taking an initial physical assessment. Please take this opportunity to share anything that you feel would be helpful as we develop your plan of care. This conversation is also a great time to ask questions and express any concerns you may have.

Our Gonstead chiropractors use specific techniques to help relieve patients’ pain. This may be through chiropractic adjustment or treatment may include manual trigger point therapy, depending on the diagnosis.

Some trigger point treatments focus on the trigger point itself, while others focus on the entire muscle and its fascia. A chiropractor may use their hands to apply the pressure. Each patient’s needs are unique, so each person gets a customized treatment to best address the issue that is causing pain.

Manual trigger point therapy techniques are labeled I through IV. With techniques I, II, and IV, the chiropractor uses significant manual pressure applied to the trigger point, subject to the patient’s pain tolerance. The more accurately the practitioner can identify the trigger point, the less force is needed. Technique III focuses on the tissue and fascia around the trigger point rather than the point itself.

Trigger Point Techiques

Technique I involves compression of a particular trigger point.

Technique II involves manually stretching the tight areas and their adjacent tight bands.

Fascia Release Techniques

Technique III involves manually releasing the tissue and fascia surrounding the trigger point.

Technique IV involves intramuscular mobilization, which describes manually releasing the tissue and fascia between muscles.

trigger point therapy

When you go in for trigger point therapy, you should expect the treatment to take about half an hour. Complex or severe cases may take longer. The number of sessions you need depends on the nature of your case. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you embark on your treatment journey:

  • If you have chronic trigger points, you may need more sessions than a new-onset case because the restricted blood flow and tensions are more established and harder to reverse.

  • The therapy sessions will be uncomfortable, especially at first. The trigger points accumulate inflammatory substances that will be painful when released. However, don’t be afraid to tell the chiropractor if the pressure becomes too painful.

  • After your session, your muscles may be sore, as they are after vigorous exercise. Take heart; for most patients, the discomfort is short-lived. You can accelerate the recovery process by drinking lots of water and applying cold compresses to the trigger point area. This mild soreness is much less painful than the trigger point pain, so most people don’t mind it too much.

Some practitioners talk through the sessions to keep patients from focusing on the discomfort. If you prefer that they work in silence, it’s appropriate to request that.


What Outcomes Can You Expect From Trigger Point Therapy?  

Trigger point therapy demonstrates measurable improvement in multiple areas:

  • Improving blood flow to the area where the muscles contract

  • Stretching of the tight muscles for greater relaxation in the body

  • Releasing of the tight fasciae to lubricate the muscles and improve the range of motion

  • Relieving chronic and acute pain

Though they aren’t as scientifically measurable, patients report improvements in other areas of their lives. For example, patients report greater calm and relaxation when the muscles are more relaxed.

Why Choose Trigger Point Therapy?  

For patients looking for pain relief without harsh medications, trigger point therapy may be an excellent option. Because it takes place in the office rather than a hospital, most patients can go on about their day after treatment without missing work or other activities. Trigger point therapy can be used successfully with patients of all ages, including children and the elderly. It may give these patients an alternative to other treatments that aren’t available to the very young or very old. Appropriately trained professionals know how to adjust the pressure to suit the patient.

Where Can You Learn More About Trigger Point Therapy?  

Contact Nordik Chiropractic today for an appointment to see if trigger point therapy might help you find relief from pain. Our team of friendly and caring professionals can help determine the right course of treatment for you to help you get back to pain-free living. We may also recommend complementary services, such as mental health, neurological, and medical, that help you gain the maximum benefits for your health. Call us at (561) 658-1180 for more information.

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Read what our clients say about Nordic Chiropractic

Oliver T

March 30, 2020

Dr. G has the best methods for adjusting patients.
Dr. G has the best methods for adjusting patients. I've been using chiropractors for 45 years, and he is in the top 5! Gentle adjustments that don't smash you. Professional manner, funny as heck. Helped my wife with severe nerve restoration and avoided surgery. Bring a friend! Highly recommend Nordik chiropractic!


March 30, 2020

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I travel from Italy to use Dr G’s chiropractic services. I don’t trust anyone else with my neck problems. Gonstead technique takes the guess work and mistakes out of chiropractic adjustments. Very thorough assessment, excellent adjustments and friendly clinic all round. Highly recommended.hly recommend Nordikchiropractic!


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Dr. A and Dr. G are amazing and truly caring people!
I wasn’t able to walk and passed out because I was in so much pain due to a herniated disc that was hitting the spinal nerve. Within a week, under Dr. Andris’s care and expertise I now have no pain and I am on my way to recovery. I can not thank Dr. A enough for his help, he saw me twice a day, even over the weekend when there are no office hours. I look forward to the progress I will continue to make and I will continue to go see Dr. A! If you are in need of a chiropractor, seriously look no further, give them a try and you will not be disappointed.


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As an athlete, I am constantly needing some workout recovery and I always feel 10x better instantly as I leave. I’ve also pulled my back, had pinched nerves to where I couldn’t move at all and within just 2 weeks of me seeing him 3x a week, my body was relieved and the pain was almost gone. insane. Now I just go for maintenance and take care of my body! Him and his wife are such a nice couple and very respectful with there work! Hands down recommend Dr G to anyone.

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