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Trigger Point Therapy

What is a Trigger Point?

Trigger Points are tight areas of muscles that are painful and, when provoked, cause referred pain to be felt in other parts of the body.

Trigger Points can be disabling and distressing for many people.


A very common example occurs in the smaller muscles at the back of the neck attaching to the head. Sometimes these muscles become so irritated that they can cause severe pain to be felt to the side of the head or behind the eyes. Sometimes such symptoms are labelled ‘migraine‘.

Other common Trigger Points are found in the rotator cuff muscles by the shoulder blades which can cause pain in the arm and the gluteal muscles in the buttocks which can cause pain along the leg.

What causes a Trigger Point?

Trigger Points usually begin as a side-effect of an under-lying problem. Sometimes this is an acute injury but more often they are related to long-term posture or movement problems.


Often patients feel significant pain relief very soon with proper therapy. However Trigger Points generally return if the under-lying problems are not properly diagnosed and treated.

Trigger Point Therapy

This commonly refers to a form of therapy known as Ischemic compression. This is a deep form of massage involving direct compression of the affected area.

Things to note

  • The therapy is usually quite uncomfortable
  • Bruising, or a bruised sensation is common
  • A lot of patients feel some immediate relief but for others it can take longer

Other Therapies


It is important to acknowledge the work of Dr Janet Travell who developed much of what is known about Myofascial Pain Syndrome, the technical term for having Trigger Points. Together with Dr David G. Simons, she authored the best known text book on the subject Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction. The Trigger Point Manual.

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