Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy
Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy is a treatment program made up of physical and occupational therapists, occupational therapists, and other specialists why are trained to identify when the cause of pain and dysfunction in the body is due to tightening and soreness in the muscles and muscle coverings. These muscle coverings are the fascia, and they are connective tissues coverings that help to support of the muscles so that there is no friction when they glide against one another. These connective tissue coverings also supply the muscles with supportive structures such as nerves and blood vessels. A patient may experience pain when certain small points in the muscles or fascia become tense and shortened to affect the entire muscle. These points of concentrated tension are known as trigger points, and they may produce pain in the muscles and limitation of movement until they are treated and broken up. The goal of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy is to identify these trigger points, and to release them using treatments such as the application of pressure to them and sustained slow load stretches.
Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy is one type of myofascial release therapy that addresses the tightness and shortening of the fascia as the cause of pain conditions such as migraine headaches. Carpal tunnel syndrome, Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder, and muscle spasms.
Often people become injured due to overuse injuries, sports injuries, and other events which traumatize the muscles, or the structures associated with those muscles, such as the bones, nerves, and joints. When this happens, there is an inflammatory response in the body which causes the muscles to react and tense up. This tension of the muscle is usually a beneficial protective mechanism to prevent the injury from becoming worse. In some cases, though, tension may linger in the muscles or fascia, causing them to get shorter and tighter.
This shortening of the muscle changes the way you move your body, as you only have full range of motion on one side of it. As you begin to favor the injury and carry your body differently, you can possible throw your whole skeletal muscle system out of alignment, putting on you on a long path of pain and injury. Limited mobility in the areas of the body that are tight and excessive pressure on the joints and muscles affected by this tension can begin making your whole body uncomfortable and difficult to move around.
Treatment Goals: The goal of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy is to identify muscle imbalances, muscular weakness, and tension in the body, and to identify what is causing. The specialist who performs these diagnostics will look for tightness throughout the muscle and fascia, and especially small concentrated knots in these structures known as trigger points. When the therapist presses directly onto these trigger points, they will be sensitive and painful to the tough. Once the asymmetries in the body, areas of tightness, and trigger points have been identified, the therapist will come up with a comprehensive plan to fix all the problems.
Therapy sessions will usually take place over a period of weeks to months, depending on the severity of the condition. In the initial session, asymmetries in the body will be identified, including muscle strength imbalances and differences in muscle size and mobility. Subsequent treatment sessions will include stretches and applications of pressure to release tension and pressure in the affected areas. Progress in these sessions will be measured by how much flexibility and motion is increased in the affected structures. The therapist will also monitor progress in the form of pain relief the patient reports.
Additional treatments that may complement the efforts of the rehabilitation specialist include:
- Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Applying icing to reduce muscle swelling and heat to sooth constricted muscles
- Doing aerobic exercise to increase blood flow to the affected areas
- Doing self-stretching exercises to maintain flexibility in the stiff muscles