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Article by John Miller

What is a Trigger Point?

trigger point release

Doctors' Travell and Simons defined a myofascial trigger point as a hyperirritable spot in a skeletal muscle. A trigger point is usually painful on compression and may give rise to characteristic referred pain, referred tenderness, motor dysfunction and autonomic phenomena. Myofascial trigger points occur in both acute and chronic pain conditions. Hendler and Kozikowski suggest that myofascial trigger points as the most commonly missed diagnosis in chronic pain patients.

What Causes a Trigger Point?

According to Dr Gunn, 'Shortening in muscles acting across a joint increase joint pressure, upsets alignment, and can precipitate pain in the joint, i.e. arthralgia.' There is also a theory that permanent muscle contraction is abnormal and can create an ischaemic muscle pain due to the restriction decreasing normal muscle blood flow.

How Are Your Trigger Points Treated?

It is possible to deactivate triggers points by various methods such as acupressure, dry needling, muscle stretching, trigger point massage devices or injecting them with different substances, including saline (saltwater) placebo.

How Do You Release a Trigger Point?

Trigger Point Therapy is a form of Remedial Massage Therapy. Direct pressure is applied to specified points on tender muscle tissue to reduce muscle tension and pain relief.

Trigger point therapy is for almost everyone. Muscles with active trigger points are always weaker than healthy muscles and cannot move through their full range of motion. Because they cannot perform their normal function, you recruit alternative muscles to perform the compromised muscle activity. These secondary muscles can develop trigger points themselves if you don't treat the original hypertonic muscle.

Dry Needling

Dry needling may help decrease local muscular pain and improve function by restoring your muscle's ability to elongate and shorten. When your therapist inserts a fine filament needle into the centre of a myofascial trigger point, blood pools around the needle, triggering the contracted muscle fibres to relax by providing those fibres with fresh oxygen and nutrients as by flushing away any additional acidic chemicals. This reaction leads to the decompression of the local blood and nerve supply.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

The needle sites can be at the epicentre of taut, tender muscle bands, or they can be near the spine where the nerve root may have become irritated and supersensitive. Penetration of a healthy muscle is painless. But, a shortened, supersensitive muscle may 'grasp' the needle or trigger the muscle.

Dry needling of the 'shortened' muscle band causes an immediate, palpable relaxation. The patient often experiences a sense of release and increased range of motion. The trigger point release obtained from dry needling can be long-lasting when used in conjunction with motor control retraining and postural and movement behaviour retraining. The result is a stimulation of the stretch receptor within the muscle (muscle spindle), producing a reflex relaxation or lengthening response.

Dry Needling vs Trigger Point Injections

Researchers have studied trigger point injections using placebo saline and drug therapy. They have concluded that the only consistent factor is the pain relief from the needle's stimulation for the infusion itself rather than the drug or saline solution used. While the jury is probably still out on the effect of trigger point injections, it is perhaps fair to suggest that the trigger point's mechanical needle stimulation without the use of a drug  (dry needling) does positively affect hyperstimulated trigger points. If you are interested in dry needling, most of our PhysioWorks physiotherapists are dry needle trained.

What Conditions Could Acupuncture or Dry Needling Help?

Acupuncture or dry needling may be considered by your healthcare professional after their thorough assessment in the following conditions:

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Experience the PhysioWorks Massage Difference!

Have you ever experienced a lousy massage? Wondered about the massage quality you could receive, or if it's a legitimate massage service?

Yes, there's a vast difference between people claiming to be "massage therapists" and precisely what service you'll receive when you get there. That's why at PhysioWorks, we only engage the services of tertiary qualified remedial massage therapists with a minimum of three years of full-time training.

Their training guarantees you'll receive a far more beneficial massage than a simple skin rub!

What Massage Styles Does PhysioWorks Offer?

Our registered remedial massage therapists perform a broad range of specialised massage styles. Their specific massage techniques may include deep tissue, sports massage, acupressure, Swedish, cross-fibre, trigger point therapy, relaxation, 0r more.

You'll benefit from their experience and training to perform the most appropriate massage specifically for you and your condition. Of course, your caring therapist will ask you what style you'd prefer. We wouldn't want to give you a firm sports massage if all you wanted was some tender loving care.

It's Easy to Relax, Rehabilitate or Rejuvenate with a PhysioWorks Massage.

Please call us if you think you'd benefit from a fantastic massage. Gift vouchers and private health insurance rebates are also available.

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A fantastic PhysioWorks massage may be more affordable than you think. Your private health insurance usually pays for the majority of your massage, leaving you with only a few dollars to pay for the gap. For more details, don't hesitate to get in touch with your nearest PhysioWorks Massage Clinic.

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What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is an effective and efficient technique for the treatment of muscular pain and myofascial dysfunction. Dry needling or intramuscular stimulation (IMS) is a technique that Dr Chan Gunn developed. Dry needling is a beneficial method to relax overactive muscles.

In simple terms, the treatment involves the needling of a muscle's trigger points without injecting any substance. Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles are the basis of dry needling. It should not be confused with the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique of acupuncture. However, since both dry needling and acupuncture utilise the same filament needles, the confusion is understandable.

In his IMS approach, Dr Chan Gunn and Dr Fischer, in his segmental approach to Dry Needling, strongly advocate the importance of clearing trigger points in both peripheral and spinal areas.

Dry needling trained health practitioners use dry needling daily for the treatment of muscular pain and dysfunction.

dry needling

What Conditions Could Acupuncture or Dry Needling Help?

Acupuncture or dry needling may be considered by your healthcare professional after their thorough assessment in the following conditions:

Private Health Fund Rebates

Most private health funds offer rebates on acupuncture or dry needling treatments as a component of your physiotherapy or acupuncture consultation.

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Acupressure

acupressure

What is Acupressure?

Acupressure is a massage pressure technique that works upon acupuncture points. Rather than fine needles, finger pressure exerted at specific points along the meridians aims to stimulate, disperse and balance the flow of energy, relieve pain, and treat various chronic, acute and degenerative conditions.

Our PhysioWorks physiotherapists and remedial massage therapists are acupressure trained. Please ask them if you would like acupressure incorporated into your treatment.

What Conditions Could Acupuncture or Dry Needling Help?

Acupuncture or dry needling may be considered by your healthcare professional after their thorough assessment in the following conditions:

More Info