Trigger point therapy is considered an alternative therapy and focuses on detecting and releasing trigger points. Found in the skeletal muscle, trigger points are areas that produce pain when compressed.
In a lot of cases, trigger points form as a result of injury to the muscle fibers.
Usually used to treat pain-related conditions, trigger point therapy is sometimes called neuromuscular therapy or myofascial trigger point therapy.
Some methods can be used to release trigger points, including dry needling, chiropractic care, and massage therapy.
Applications of Trigger Point Therapy
In alternative medicine, trigger point therapy is used to care for some chronic pain conditions, including:
- Low back pain
- Temporomandibular joint pain
Also, some people use trigger point therapy as a treatment for sports injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, tinnitus, sciatica, and osteoarthritis.
Trigger point therapy may help alleviate plantar heel pain and discomfort, suggests a small study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy in 2011.
During the study, 60 people with plantar heel plan were divided into two groups: One group regularly performed stretching exercises, while the other group underwent trigger point therapy and followed the same stretching routine as the first group.
After a month, the group who received trigger point therapy showed a superior improvement in physical function and a significant decrease in pain.
When used in combination with other treatments, dry needling may be beneficial for people with chronic lower back pain. That’s the finding of a 2005 research review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. However, since most of the reviewed trials were low quality, the study’s authors noted that more research is needed.
Preliminary research shows that trigger point therapy may be helpful in managing tension headaches, according to a 2012 Report from Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. However, there is a lack of current clinical trials demonstrating the usefulness of this type of therapy for tension headaches.
Trigger Point Therapy vs. Traditional Acupuncture
A common form of trigger point therapy is dry needling, a technique that involves putting a needle into trigger points (without injection or medication).
Dry needling should not be mistaken for acupuncture, a traditional form of Chinese medicine that involves using needles to engage particular points thought to connect with pathways that carry vital energy (or “chi”) throughout the body.
While there is some overlap between acupuncture point sites and trigger point sites, trigger point therapy is not focused on advancing the flow of chi.
Also, while acupuncture is used to treat a broad range of health conditions, trigger point therapy is primarily used to treat musculoskeletal disorders.