Trigger point acupuncture also known as dry needling is a specific style of acupuncture that extinguishes trigger points. Trigger points are sensitive taut bands that can be felt in the muscle tissue. These areas are more than just tender spots. When pressed they often cause a predictable pain pattern in an area far away from the area being pressed. This is called the pain referral area. Pain caused by trigger points is often a generalized deep achy pain usually located on one side of the body. Trigger points also restrict movement too.
One example of a common referred pain pattern comes from the trapezius muscle. Trigger points in the upper trapezius muscle are a major cause of tension headaches especially around the temples. Trigger points in the middle and lower muscle fibers cause pain between the shoulder blades and soreness at the top of the shoulders.
Another common referred pain pattern occurs in the infraspinatus muscle of the shoulder. The infraspinatus is one of the four rotator cuff muscles. It covers the shoulder blade and attaches on the humerus. Trigger points in this muscle cause a deep achy pain in the front of the shoulder, between the shoulder blades and down the arm. They often prevent someone from reaching into a back pocket.
In addition to the above patterns, a third referral pattern that I see quite a bit in my clinic occurs in the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles. These are hip muscles located deep to the gluteus maximus. Trigger points in these muscles refer pain down the back of the thigh and down the side of the thigh and are often misdiagnosed as sciatica.
Trigger points can be caused by poor posture, trauma and repetitive stress. They can be eliminated by specific needling techniques that creates a twitch in the muscle. Applying static pressure to the trigger point for a period of 8-12 seconds several times will also alleviate trigger points.
Trigger points are often a hidden cause of pain and restricted movement. I have been working with trigger points since 1994 and actively look for trigger points when treating patients who have pain. If you are experiencing achy one sided pain that won’t go away trigger points may be the cause. We can help alleviate this type of pain.