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Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger Point Therapy

by Ms Noemi N Nagy 18/03/2019

Trigger Points are hyperirritable spots in the muscle fascia around the nerve receptors forming mainly in muscles which have been overused or injured. Increased muscle tension is the primary effect and pain being the secondary effect. To diffuse trigger points, direct pressure is applied to the area. Releasing these trigger points calms the nerves and elimination of discomfort results. Trigger Point Massage is 'not relaxing'.

Active trigger point

  • a trigger point that is always tender, that refers pain at rest, that is very painful when compressed and that will activate a characteristic twitch response in the muscle when adequately stimulated.

Latent trigger point

  • a "hidden" trigger point that is symptomatically pain-free until palpated. It may still be responsible for referred pain or autonomic phenomena.


  • this is a trigger point that becomes active because it lies in muscle that falls within the referral pattern of another trigger point. Successful resolution of the satellite trigger point will only happen when the primary is released.


  • this is a trigger point that becomes active because a synergist or antagonist muscle to that of the primary trigger point is overloaded due to presence of the primary active trigger point.

Referred pain

  • pain that is caused by trigger point but is felt a distance away from the trigger point.

Characteristics of a Trigger Point:

Trigger points can present themselves as a dull ache, tingling, pins and needles, hot or cold, as well as create symptoms such as nausea. Common characteristics are increased muscle tension and muscle shortening.

  • acute pain when pressed
  • localised pain or a referred pain e.g. trigger point in the thigh can cause knee pain
  • restricted movement
  • throbbing or dull consistent pain
  • lack of flexibility
  • weakness in muscle
  • join pain
  • hard knot or marble like shape


  • sudden trauma to musculoskeletal tissue; muscles, ligaments, tendons, bursae
  • injury to intervertebral discs
  • repetitive motions; excessive exercise and muscle strains due to over activity
  • lack of activity (seated or standing postural stresses); sitting at the computer or a broken arm in a sling
  • nervous tension and stress
  • chilling of areas of the body; sitting under air conditioning duct
  • virus
  • systemic factors; nutritional deficiencies "Even a slight compromise of a muscleʼs energy supply or of its energy enzyme systems will perpetuate trigger points." SIMONS

Trigger Point Therapy Benefits:

Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy are amazing and the list is long. Just to name a few:

  • relieve headaches
  • alleviate neck and back pain
  • increase flexibility
  • increase range of movement
  • release muscle tension
  • relieve joint and muscle pain
  • injury prevention

Releasing Trigger Points:

Static compression (pressure) is applied while the client breathes deeply.

  • digital ischemic compression (D.I.C.)
  • PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation)

The action flushes the toxins and calms the nerves. Releasing trigger points releases endorphins so the result is elimination of discomfort as well as being energised.

Trigger Point Therapy is not a relaxing "fluff and buff" technique. It requires the participation of the client to communicate the presence and intensity of pain and discomfort on a scale of 1-10. The therapist and client work together as a team to maximise the effectiveness of the treatment.

It is common to find great improvement after one treatment. Repeated treatment may be necessary for those with chronic trigger points. (Three sessions in ten days with two or three days rest in between sessions is usually recommended, then weekly, fortnightly etc.)

Recommended Reading: Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction – The Trigger Point Manual by Janet Travell MD & David Simons MD.