Pain Relief and Pain Management
Myofascial trigger points are irritable tight spots in taut bands of muscle which are painful when you press on them and cause pain to be projected or "triggered" in distant predictable patterns specific for each muscle. Trigger points may also be found in the fascia, skin, tendons and ligaments. The presence of trigger points is called myofascial pain syndrome. Trigger points are rarely (20% of the time) located where the pain is felt.
They can be caused by a variety of factors including accidents, over-use or under-use of muscles, ergonomic imbalances in the home or workplace, or structural imbalances in the body. Myofascial pain may be perpetuated by poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, prolonged physical or mental stress without relief, or a combination of factors. Once myofascial trigger points are laid down, they can trigger pain and dysfunction in nearby muscles for life unless properly treated.
Myofascial pain is often misdiagnosed and mistreated for one primary reason: the cause of myofascial pain is often not located in the same place where the pain is felt. An example is that hand and arm pain is often caused by chronically contracted muscles in the upper arm, shoulder or even the neck. Another example is that research has proven that headaches are often the result of trigger points formed in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. The misdiagnosis of pain is the most important issue taken up by Dr. Janet Travell, MD and Dr. David Simons, MD (prominent in pain research for over 70 years). Referred pain from trigger points mimics the symptoms of a very long list of common maladies; but physicians, in weighing all the possible causes for a given condition, have rarely even conceived of there being a myofascial source.
The study of trigger points has not historically been part of medical education. Travell and Simons hold that most of the common everyday pain is caused by myofascial trigger points and that ignorance of that basic concept could inevitably lead to false diagnoses and the ultimate failure to deal effectively with pain.
While drugs can provide short term relief, they do not address the causes of chronic myofascial pain. And they pose a risk of side effects or in some cases, drug dependency. Surgery is a higher cost, and higher risk method of pain relief, justified in many cases. However, when myofascial factors are paramount, they can be treated at much lower cost and risk. Application of myofascial trigger point therapy techniques by a massage therapist can reduce, and often eliminate pain levels for all persons young or old with myofascial pain and dysfunction. Clients who desire to take responsibility for their own recovery or who are seeking to relieve chronic pain without over-reliance on drugs or surgery will experience the fastest results.