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Could you be suffering from trigger points?

Published:Wednesday | December 7, 2016 | 12:00 AMRobert-Karim Besnier

Trigger points, at first glance, will definitely have the uninformed reader thinking all manner of things, especially if you are a born Jamaican! What I'm certain about is that the word 'trigger' in its definitive sense will elicit thoughts of a bullet leaving a gun and the pain it causes upon impact.

To help you gather your thoughts and understand what characterises trigger point pain, one must first understand the nature of muscles and how they function. Trigger point is simply defined as tenderness in an area of the body, specifically skeletal muscle tissue.

It is also characterised as a tight area within the muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. The pain may be a dull ache or sharp and intense.

Once you're alive, you are vulnerable to trigger point pain. However, the two primary categories of trigger point pain are active, characterised by sharp sensitive muscular pain experienced in the musculature of the human body, and latent pain is only experienced when the area (musculature) is compressed.

 

THE NATURE OF MUSCLES

 

Today, almost everyone, irrespective of age or creed, is involved in some type of physical activity, whether to stay healthy and/or improve body image. Muscles in conjunction with the skeleton and other appendages enable movement.

Movement is an essential characteristic of life, and the musculature plays the major role in that activity. Considered as a single entity, the musculature includes the muscular and skeletal system. The musculature makes up 40-50 per cent of our total body weight. There are three primary functions of the musculature. First, it allows movement of the body as a whole; second, contribute to the support of the body and containment of the internal organs.

 

ACTIVE VERSUS LATENT TRIGGER POINTS

 

Both active and latent trigger points are tender to palpation. Active trigger points differ from latent trigger points in that they produce pain without a stimulus. That being so, active trigger points are usually considered to be of greater clinical significance. This pain tends to be referred away from the affected muscle in a pain pattern. Therefore, you could be experiencing pain patterns in a specific area of your body but the point of trigger is elsewhere.

Latent trigger points tend to be more frequent than active trigger points and are most experienced when compressed. Interestingly, latent trigger points are characterised even in a person's 'normal' posture. Latent trigger points can become active through circumstances related to physical activities causing overload of a particular muscle, overwork fatigue caused by excessive or repetitive actions and others.

 

SOME CONTRAINDICATIONS

 

 

TO TREATMENT

 

A contraindication is a condition that prevents a client from getting a particular treatment or, the therapist should proceed with caution. A well trained and licensed professional will have the knowledge to make that judgement call.

- Open wounds - Any cuts, lacerations or grazes. You should wait until the scar has properly formed. This is usually between one and two weeks.

- Muscle ruptures - In the acute stage these may still be bleeding. Massage will increase bleeding and tissue damage and prolong recovery. After the initial 48 to 72 hours massage may be possible but it will depend on the extent of the injury.

- Thrombosis - This is a rare but potentially lethal blood clot in a vein. It is common in the calf muscle area. A deep, sore pain in the belly of the muscle may be a thrombosis. If this is massaged, it may dislodge, travel up the veins and damage the heart.

 

SOME BENEFITS OF TRIGGER POINT THERAPY

 

- Relives pain

- Increases blood circulation

- Locate and deactivates trigger point

- Rehabilitates injured muscles

- Stress relief

- Relieves congestion in nerve pathways

- Improves muscle tone

- Increased range of motion

- Reduced pain

- Improves mobility of joints

- Improved posture

 

TREATING TRIGGER POINT PAIN

 

Trigger point therapy is also known as myofascial release and trigger point massage in some forums. If you're interested in undergoing trigger point therapy, consult your physician for help in finding a qualified practitioner. I was first exposed to trigger point pain and its patterns as a sports massage therapist rookie.

To treat trigger pain effectively, a practitioner has to be skilful in understanding myofascial pain syndrome. Myo is defined as muscle, and fascia means surrounding tissues.

There are massage therapists and bodywork practitioners that are experienced in the area but know surprisingly little about myofascial pain syndrome. This is because their training standards vary. Nonetheless, a competent practitioner with the right hands can give you a lot of relief, but it's hard to find. However, active as well as sedentary individuals can benefit from trigger point therapy.

The information shared is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician.

- Robert-Karim Besnier is a TVET educator, licenced aesthetician, sports massage and body work practitioner, skills instructor and lecturer at the HEART College of Beauty Services. Email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com.