Trigger Point Therapy
In 1955, there was a young senator who had such severe low back pain that he needed to use crutches to walk. He walked into the office of Janet G. Travell, MD, with the aid of his crutches. Three hours later, he walked out without them. . . or so the story goes. How was she able to relieve his pain when all other medical treatments had failed? Dr. Travell had discovered that muscles can become dysfunctional and cause debilitating pain.
The young senator told Dr. Travell that when he became president, he would like her to come to the White House and be his physician. The Senator, John F. Kennedy, became president and Dr. Travell became the first woman to serve as White House Physician.
Janet Travell, MD
Dec 17, 1901 - Aug 1, 1997
Dr. Travell had discovered when muscles are traumatized through accidents, sports, occupation or disease, Myofascial Trigger Points are laid down in the muscles. Trigger points are hypersensitive areas which keep that portion of the muscle contracted, causing pain and tightness. The word "Myofascial" is the combination of two Latin words, myo which means muscle and fascia for the connective tissue in and around the muscle. Dr. Travell’s research demonstrates that each muscle has a specific pattern of referred pain. That is, a Myofascial Trigger Point, will produce pain in another part of the body. Once a Trigger Point is laid down, it can be there for life unless properly treated.
Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy is a comprehensive program which includes inactivating trigger points by using compression, Fluori-Methane spray and stretch and/or microcurrent. Therapeutic exercises, including both passive and active stretches, bring the muscle back to it’s full normal length. Perpetuating Factors such as water intake, nutrition, sleep positions, body mechanics, posture, and correct ergonomics at your workstation are also addressed.
This comprehensive approach, the protocol developed by Dr. Travell, is what sets a Certified Myofascial Trigger Point Therapist (CMTPT) apart from other therapists. Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy is such a powerful and comprehensive program for treating acute and chronic pain that it requires a prescription from your doctor. This is to protect you from delayed treatment if your pain problem is other than muscular. Following treatment, you are given specific stretches to retrain the muscles treated. The Home Stretch Rehabilitation program is a key to maintaining pain relief.
On occasion, just doing appropriate stretches and addressing perpetuating factors can bring complete pain relief. An example of this was reinforced when I went to a party at a friend’s house. Often, when people are not familiar with me or my profession, I end up "talking shop" and giving mini treatments. That evening, I was listening to a man telling me about his recent neck pain. He explained that the pain started about two months previous. While at work, his pain would increase and travel down into his left arm and hand. As I listened, it became evident that his pain came on gradually, without any apparent trauma. I asked him what had happened two months ago. A smile appeared on his face as he told me how everyone in his department had been given new desks.
The smile quickly faded and he said, "That’s it, isn’t it?" "My new desk is giving me neck pain." I gave him specific stretches to do on a regular basis and my business card. He said he would do the stretches regularly and make the changes I suggested with his new desk to be more ergonomically correct. About three weeks later, I received a note, thanking me for helping him to become pain free. The power of proper stretching and elimination of perpetuation factors was never more evident.
In more severe cases, we see people respond more quickly when Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy is coupled with other therapies, such as chiropractic, physical therapy, trigger point injection, acupuncture, etc. We have a knowledgeable and professional network of health practitioners with whom we coordinate treatment.
The therapists at Indy Myopain Relief Center treat many different kinds of pain problems such as motor vehicle accidents, work related and occupational injuries, sports injuries, TMJD, migraines and headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain. In some cases, treatment before surgery, such as for knee pain, eliminates the pain allowing strengthening of the knee without the need for surgery.
Contributed by: A Comprehensive Approach to Chronic and Acute Pain by Victoria L. Magown, CMTPT, LMT and George S. Pellegrino, LMT, CMTPT