If you are looking for a way to reduce the pain and stiffness caused by your fibromyalgia trigger points, than trigger point therapy might be just what you need. Trigger point therapy is a massage technique that is used to help eliminate fibromyalgia symptoms caused by tender points on the body. It has been used since the 1940’s when it was introduced in the United States and has since been widely used by many fibromyalgia patients.
What are Trigger Points?
Trigger points are areas of extreme sensitivity on your body. When touched, these trigger points can cause pain, restrict motion, and increase muscle stiffness. Trigger points feel like tight bands or knots in the soft tissue just beneath your skin. They often form due to exertion, stress, poor posture, or illnesses like myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia. If left untreated, trigger points can form satellite trigger points, increasing your pain symptoms. Satellite trigger points refer to pain points that have spread from the original pain source.
Types of Trigger Points
There are two types of trigger points:
- Active trigger points: Active trigger points cause pain when you press them. They do not refer pain to other parts of the body.
- Latent trigger points: Latent trigger points also cause pain when they are pressed. However, they can also result in pain in other areas of your body. For instance, a trigger point in your neck may cause you to feel pain in your back.
What is Trigger Point Therapy?
Trigger point therapy is a touch therapy that is used to eliminate trigger points. It is sometimes called myotherapy. It is used by massage therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, and some medical doctors to help relieve pain and increase muscular flexibility. During trigger point therapy, your practitioner will exert pressure on your trigger points by using her fingers, knuckles, or elbows. This pressure is maintained for about 10 seconds and then released. Pressure is then reapplied in a pumping action for a further 30 seconds. After treatment, your muscles are stretched and lengthened to enhance flexibility.
Trigger Point Therapy vs Acupressure
Though the two therapies may sound similar, they actually operate on different parts of the body. Acupressure focuses on specific energy pathways in the body. Areas that are blocked are palpated in order to restore energy flow. You cannot feel these blockages under the skin. Trigger point therapy however, works on palpable knots in your muscles that are unrelated to energy pathways.
How does Trigger Point Therapy Work?
Trigger point therapy is highly effective at reducing trigger point pain. When pressure is applied, blood flow to the area is increased. This allows oxygen and nutrients to flow to the site and heal the muscle. The pressure also stimulates your body to release endorphins, helping to minimize pain.
What Is Trigger Point Therapy Used For?
Trigger point therapy massage is used to treat a number of different conditions. These include:
- myofascial pain syndrome
- repetitive strain injury
- accident trauma
- sports injuries
Benefits of Trigger point Therapy for Fibromyalgia Patients
Trigger point therapy can be highly beneficial for fibromyalgia patients. Fibromyalgia is characterized by the presence of a number of highly tender areas located around the body. These tender points can cause muscular pain, stiffness, and a variety of other discomforts. Trigger point therapy is beneficial to fibromyalgia patients because it works to eliminate these tender points and the symptoms they cause. Trigger point therapy can:
- reduce muscle stiffness
- increase range of motion
- increase flexibility
- enhance circulation, allowing your body to heal
- ease depression and anxiety
What to Expect During Your Trigger Point Therapy Session
A typical trigger point therapy session typically lasts about 60 minutes, though your initial visit may take a little longer. Your practitioner will first ask you about your general health and what you hope to achieve with trigger point therapy. He will then locate your trigger points by touching various areas of your body.
Once your trigger points have been located, your practitioner will begin to exert pressure on them. Typically, fingers or knuckles are used to exert this pressure, though sometimes elbows or trigger point therapy tools are also used. You will feel pain when pressure is first placed on your trigger points. It is important to voice this pain to your practitioner, so that she can tailor the massage to your specific needs. The pain will become less intense as the session continues. During and after the session, your practitioner will also stretch various muscles. This is to prevent your muscles from tightening up again.
After Your Trigger Point Therapy Session
After your session, you should feel very relaxed. You will also notice a reduction in your pain symptoms and an increase in your range of motion. You might find yourself particularly energized due to the endorphins released during the process. Fibromyalgia patients generally require about five trigger point sessions to achieve noticeable relief.
Where to Find a Trigger Point Therapist
Trigger point therapists, sometimes called myotherapists, must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Your state should have information on where to find a well-trained trigger point therapist. Your family doctor should also be able to refer you to a practitioner. Certain schools specialize in the training of myotherapists, and these schools can also provide you with the names of qualified practitioners.