Trigger point therapy is a type of non-surgical regenerative medicine used to treat musculoskeletal pain. It focuses on improving chronic pain by releasing muscle tension throughout the body with massages, injections, or dry needling techniques. The goal of trigger point therapy is to reduce pain and improve mobility by releasing tight and painful knots in the muscles and fascia (network of connective tissue). This can be achieved through sustained pressure, posture and movement correction, electrical stimulation, dry needling, and massage.
Trigger point injections are often used in combination with physical therapy and stretching exercises to relieve pain. If you have a knot in your muscle that doesn't respond to conservative treatment, such as pain relievers, ask your doctor about trigger-point injections. Most people experience pain relief 24 to 72 hours after the triggering point injection procedure. Keep in mind that the clinical trials they are based on would have considered that success was due to relieving pain rather than eliminating trigger points.
Of the many types of trigger point therapies, the most common are therapeutic massage, dry needling, and trigger-point release. Research indicates that no one really knows the exact tissue that makes you feel the trigger points. You feel better and tension is released in the muscle, but of course the trigger point is still there and will reactivate when it gets worse. As shown in this diagram, trigger points start out small and develop slowly, until they reach a stage where they are not yet a throbbing pain, but are quite large and would trigger pain if pressed on them.
Current science cannot explain why some trigger points hurt and others are simply muscle knots. However, when a trigger point is “activated”, expect to feel sharp pain, followed by a persistent or throbbing sensation that can go away as quickly as it appeared or persist for weeks or even months. Trigger point therapy is an effective way to reduce pain and improve mobility without surgery. It can help relieve myofascial pain, especially in the neck, shoulders, arms, legs, and lower back.
Most people experience pain relief 24 to 72 hours after the triggering point injection procedure.