The Science of Trigger Point Therapy: What Exactly Do We Know and Don’t Know?

Opinions of myofascial trigger point therapy vary wildly depending on who you ask. Some people tout this alternative approach to pain relief as a miracle cure; others refer to it as bogus science or even actively harmful. The reality, however, probably lies somewhere in the middle: trigger point therapy does not benefit all pain sufferers, but it possibly holds plenty of promise.

What are Trigger Points?

Trigger points are small focal spots found on taut bands of muscle. When improperly activated, they supposedly cause severe, localized pain, or in some cases, immobility. However, in applying direct pressure to problem areas, afflicted individuals instead experience a dull ache, which eventually gives way to relief. This concept is known as referral pain.

What are the Purported Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy?

Advocates claim that applying pressure to localized spots of pain can effectively spur alleviation, freeing sufferers of the need for drug therapy and accompanying side effects. Additionally, advocates claim that myofascial therapy delivers prompt results, with chronic pain sufferers experiencing desperately-needed relief after just one treatment.

Are There Any Downsides?

According to skeptics, trigger point compression does not solve underlying problems, and it is therefore nothing more than a Band-Aid preventing pain sufferers from seeking a more permanent solution. This approach can be downright dangerous if conducted in a DIY manner or by an inexperienced therapist.

What the Science Says

Researchers remain skeptical of trigger point therapy, but there are signs of hope for advocates who require empirical evidence. In a notable study published in BMC Medicine, those prescribed myofascial therapy showed marked improvements over the control group after twelve weeks of shoulder-based intervention. More research is needed, however, to determine whether this is an effective treatment for other sources of pain.

Trigger point therapy may or may not become your go-to solution for chronic or acute pain—speak with a physician before engaging in any self therapy or treatment like this. But you can count on the qualified Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys at Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP to help you obtain fair benefits.

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