Trigger Points - Definition:
A myofascial trigger point is defined as "a hyperirritable spot, usually within
a taut band of skeletal muscle or in the muscle fascia, that is painful on compression
and that can give rise to characteristic referred pain, tendereness, and autonomic phenomena"(1).
The technical definition fails to communicate the absolute devastation that trigger
points can wreck on our lives. Thus it is necessary at this point to present a couple
of real life case histories. We shall focus on "tennis elbow", or so called "lateral
Trigger Points - Tennis Elbow Case Histories
Trigger Point Case History (1): Elbow pain in a computer operator.
Martha, aged forty-eight, had been told she had epicondylitis in both elbows from
repetitive strain. The pain had become so bad that she was unable to work and had
to quit her job. Worry about the future kept her from sleeping. She felt worn out
and tense all the time. She'd gotten many conflicting recommendations regarding
treatment, ranging from extended rest to various types of reconstructive surgery.
Workman's compensation would pay for almost anything she needed. She'd gone go
physical therapy for months and she wore braces on her elbows most of the time,
but progress had been negligible. Now her doctor wanted to put her arms in casts
to immobilize them. After being shown how to massage her forearm muscles with a
tennis ball, Martha was able to get rid of most of her pain in just three weeks(3).
Trigger Point Case History (2): Elbow pain in an Electrician
Brian, an electrician aged 42, had pain in at the side of his right elbow. His
hand had poor grip strength, and twisting a screwdriver made the pain in his elbow
excruciating. He wondered if he would be able to hold down his job. Upon
recommendation from a friend, Brian paid a visit to Mr. Chin, a local Chinese
massage therapist. The massage felt brutal: Mr Chin seemed hell bent on finding
painful spots located in Brian's forearm and squeezing them with what seemed like
vice like intensity. Brian was assured that the force being used was not that hard,
but he did not believe it. After sweating it out for half hour, Brian's arm was
aching, but freer in its movement. The next day, the pain in Brian's elbow had
markedly reduced, and he has been almost pain free and certainly happy in his
work ever since. Says Brian: "the agony was worth it".
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Biology of Trigger Points: Definition of Trigger Points
© Bruce Thomson, EasyVigour Project
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