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Trigger Point Treatment


Trigger point treatment is a type of massage therapy aimed at releasing muscle knots, or trigger points.

What is a Trigger Point?

The muscles and tissues that surround the muscle, bones, and organs may become tense and hypersensitive, leading to knots that cause a restriction in the blood supply. This reduces the amount of oxygen in the body and leads to the accumulation of metabolic waste and toxins. In turn, the trigger point sends out pain signals and increases symptoms.

A tight muscle has lost the ability to contract and relax due to constant tension, leading to increasingly intense pain with movement or applied pressure.

It’s important to know that trigger points are not limited to muscles; they may also refer to "migraine spots,” which are the cause of 90% of migraines.

In addition, trigger points will usually worsen if irritation or pressure is applied to the area, such as through massage therapy or stretching exercises. This can make it even more difficult to tolerate pain caused by chronic migraines.

Trigger points can be active or latent. Active trigger points are painful and can be activated by applying pressure or movement to the area. In contrast, latent trigger points only cause active pain when the muscle is used.

What Causes Trigger Points?

Trigger points are caused by a combination of overworking or overstressing muscles, poor posture, static or sustained postures, overuse, misuse, underuse and/or direct trauma of muscles. Trigger points can cause or be a contributing factor of a wide variety of painful conditions. A trigger point in the muscles or fascia tissues lead to myofascial pain that may cause an entire muscle to be painful, tight, weak, and easily fatigued.


When is Trigger Point Treatment Done?

Trigger Point (Dry) Needling can be used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal problems, such as:

  • Neck, back and shoulder pain (i.e. frozen shoulder)
  • Headaches (including migraines and tension headaches)
  • Arm pain (i.e. tennis elbow)
  • Hip, buttock, and leg pain (i.e. sciatica)
  • Jaw pain (TMD)
  • Whiplash
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Because muscles are the primary cause of symptoms, treating the muscles directly has the greatest effect on reducing pain.

Is Trigger Point Treatment Painful?

Trigger point treatment can be painful if the therapist applies too much pressure to sensitive muscles during massage. Most patients don’t feel the needle being inserted and the local twitch response may elicit a brief and unexpected painful response that can be described as an electric shock or a cramping sensation.

Patients may experience mild discomfort that is often described as “good pain,” welcomed by most clients seeking pain relief. The local response is a good and desirable reaction that leads to lasting results.

Side Effects After Treatment

Patients may experience soreness or a bruised feeling in the treatment area after the procedure. The sensations may last between a few hours and two days. Other potential side effects, such as sweating, increased heart rate, dizziness, and nausea, are called a Sympathetic Reaction and are not as common.

Patients should drink lots of water to flush out the system and facilitate healing.


At OC Physical Therapy, patients receive a customized treatment plan to help them fully recover from injuries and overuse. Our dedicated team of physical therapists seeks to provide you with better overall health through quality care.
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    Address: 26921 Crown Valley Pkwy
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