you been told you have trigger points or pressure points and are not sure what
it actually means? Let me explain what trigger points are and how to get rid of
them. My explanation comes from my experience of over 35 years of working with
First, a trigger point by
definition is a build-up of lactic acid in or around the muscle tissue. Lacitc
acid is a normal waste product excreted from muscle tissue after injury or exercise.
decades of working on men, women, children, athletes and couch potatoes, I can
tell you there is a way to categorize them for better understanding and treatment
Traditionally, there are
two types: active and latent or those you feel and those you don’t feel.
This definition of trigger points is very inadequate. I have separated the trigger
point into five different grades of dysfunction.
I: The patient or doctor may feel (palpate) a bump (trigger point), but the patient
will feel no pain or discomfort.
II: The patient or doctor will palpate a trigger point and there will be pain
or discomfort at the same site as the trigger point.
III: The doctor will palpate the trigger point and the patient will feel pain
not only at the site of the trigger point, but also at another place where the
pain has radiated. (Touch the shoulders on top and you feel pain up the back of
your neck to your head.)
NOBODY touches the trigger point. The patient contracts the muscle and the same
radiating pain pattern is felt. (Move your neck and pain goes down to your hand.)
V: I have only witnessed this in four patients over ten years. A trigger point
on the SCM muscle of the neck when palpated caused instant loss of vision in the
ipsilateral eye. Vision was restored when pressure was removed from the trigger
I and II: Ice: 20 minutes on, 40 minutes off. If you are diabetic, 5 minutes on,
30 minutes off. Do this as often as you can. Do NOT sleep with the ice. Massage
is also very beneficial when done by a licensed Therapist who truly understands
the nuances of trigger points. You do not want to work on one single trigger point
for more than 2 minutes in any given session. Inflammation will occur if over
stimulated and this will prompt the trigger point to the next level down.
III and IV : Ice massage: Pour water into a paper cup and freeze the cup. Peel
the top of the cup down to reveal the ice and have someone rub the ice over the
trigger point for no more than two to three minutes with a gentle pressure. Follow
this with the same icing procedures for the treatment listed in Grade I and II
trigger points. Ice massage should be done two to three times a day. Do NOT massage
a Grade III or Grade IV trigger point. This will inflame it further delaying the
Grade V: I doubt
you will experience this. If you do, I always recommend diagnostic tests to rule
out any more life threatening illnesses.
ever use heat to treat a trigger point. Though heat ‘feels’ good,
it is an inflammatory process and will further complicate your recovery. There
is a right time for heat. When in doubt…use ice.