This isn’t a happy situation. On the one hand you have an almost universal source of physical pain and on the other you have the people we most frequently turn to when we hurt who are largely ignorant of the very thing which is troubling us.
Now sometimes, often even, reduction of pain is enough to help us get rid of trigger points. We don’t hurt so much so we get out and do some exercise and this helps to break the cycle of tension and stress which set up and sustained the trigger points in the first place. Job done. More often though, pharmaceutical pain relief just gets us through the nasty active phase of trigger point activity. Things calm down till something comes along to re-active the trigger point or points then it’s back to the doctor or chemist for more medication.
Of course, this is a very simplified picture and it completely ignores what happens when misdiagnosis of trigger point pain leads to inappropriate or unnecessary treatment. But that’s another story.
Today, we’re going to look at trigger point treatment. There are a variety of ways this can be done. One is to visit a therapist who specialises in the relief of trigger points. He or she will use one or more techniques which include dry needling (something like acupuncture but not the same), compression, spray and stretch (desensitising with cold then very specific stretching) and various other forms of bodywork. Usually, but not always, the release of a trigger point will be followed by some kind of stretching of the affected muscle.
Another approach is to self-treat, usually by using compression: you find the right sore spot and you rub it. Both the finding and the rubbing require some guidance but the advantage is that you can do this long enough and often enough to be effective whereas therapist treatment is necessarily limited by what you can afford in terms of time and money. Trigger points can be very persistent, especially if you’ve had them for a long time, so self-treatment can be a worthwhile option.
However you treat them, trigger points will often not go away permanently unless you modify the way you use your body. That’ll be the subject of our next post.