Acupuncture and trigger point therapy are a potent combination for managing and eliminating pain. Both use needles, but they are different. I have studied and practiced trigger point therapy for 25 years. What is it? How does it enhance traditional acupuncture? And how does it improve results?
What are trigger points?
Acupuncture by itself is a great way to manage or eliminate pain. Its pain-controlling effects are well-documented. But trigger points are different from acupuncture points and are not found in acupuncture books. They are chronic hypersensitive knots in muscle tissue and fascia that create local pain or refer pain to a different area of the body. Doctors call this myofascial pain (“myo” means muscle). When a muscle has trigger points, it is chronically tight.
What causes trigger points?
Injuries, repetitive stress, misuse.
Why treat trigger points?
Because to treat pain, you have to identify the source of pain. The pain is in one place, but the trigger point causing it might be in another. In most systems of traditional acupuncture, part of the treatment strategy involves needling into the area of pain. But with trigger points, the area of pain is not always the source of pain. Look at the illustration to the left as an example. The pain is felt at the outer ankle and sole of the foot. If we treat these areas, the pain will diminish but will return because the source, the trigger point, is in the upper calf muscle.
Why is extra study required to learn trigger point therapy?
There are 100s of common trigger points, each with their unique locations and pain-referral patterns. These points are not found in acupuncture books.
Trigger point therapy and acupuncture work well together for faster results.
- 1) We activate the energy pathways traversing areas in which trigger points are located.
- 2) We needle the trigger points themselves.
I have observed that a synergistic and more powerful effect is achieved using both types of therapy together.
If you have questions or would like more detailed information, please visit the my article Trigger Point Therapy & Myofascial Pain: Questions & Answers.