One of the distinguishing features of our therapists is that they are all trained in trigger point dry needling (medical acupuncture) and acupressure (which they can use if preferred). This can be highly effective for relieving painful trigger points, especially when combined with other forms of treatment such as deep massage and electrotherapy. Trigger points are tight bands or knots in muscle tissue which are often a major component of persistent or chronic conditions such as tension headaches and other "referred pain" conditions.
A very common area for trigger points to occur is in the muscle in the top of your shoulder. This trigger point usually causes referred pain to the head and neck and restricted movement of the neck.
Other common areas for trigger points to form are in the deep gluteal muscles around the hip. These can cause pain down the leg which can be mistaken for, or co-exist with, "sciatic" pain from trapped nerves in the lower back.
Pain killers can help mask the symptoms but within a trigger point there is usually spontaneous electrical activity causing the fibers to be permanently contracted. Consciously trying to relax the area, stretching, massaging and even taking muscle relaxant medication will often not be enough to make the knot let go. Some forms of massage and stretching can even make the tension worse by irritating the sensitive nerve endings within the trigger points.
Some pain doctors use injections to relieve trigger points. This involves using a hypodermic needle to inject various medications such as local anesthetic, corticosteroids or Botox. However complications may occur due to the drugs used and as well as being relatively expensive there is often a limit on the number of times these procedures can be used. It has been found in research studies that people improve when needles are inserted in trigger points, no matter what substance is injected, or even if nothing is injected (dry needling). Therefore, it is often the effect of the needle that helps, not the medication injected.