Thursday evening I had the privilege of helping to sponsor a free Trigger Point Relief Seminar and mini health fair at the Heritage Center in Tualatin, Oregon. I belong to a Health and Wellness Power Team that works together to provide events like these at no charge to our community. I highly recommend all of the presenters and sponsors listed below!
Our speakers for the event were Dr. Josh Pettigrew, chiropractor; Dr. Wendy Rogers, acupuncturist and naturopathic physician; and Barbara Dieringer, massage therapist and fitness instructor.
Dr. Josh kicked off our seminar with an introduction to trigger points, what they are, how they are formed, and how they can affect us. One of the things that I found really enlightening about what he shared was that trigger point referral pain happens in a predictable pattern. He explained that when a person comes into his office with pain in a particular area, he knows exactly where to look based on the trigger point referral patterns. If someone isn’t adequately trained in trigger point therapy, or in these referral patterns, they wouldn’t know where to look or if a trigger point is involved. Scott says that the trigger point referral pattern charts were the highlight of the evening — but then, my husband is an aerospace engineer!
Another thing Dr. Josh (right) shared with us is that often trigger points within a muscle will cause muscle weakness. When this happens, the last thing you want to do is try to strengthen the muscle through exercise. The only way to correctly strengthen the muscle is by releasing the trigger points and restoring proper muscle function. I know I’ve gotten incorrect counsel in the past, so this really hit home for me!
Barbara went over what she called, “The great mimickers” — conditions that trigger points can mimic and/or cause: headaches, jaw pain, back pain, sciatica, rotator cuff conditions, carpal tunnel, elbow pain, tendinitis, arthritis, leg and knee pain, etc. Even fibromyalgia pain can be made worse by having untreated trigger points. Barbara mentioned that she had an earache once that turned out to be caused by trigger points in her neck, and not anything in her ear at all!
A common question we all had was, “How did I get here? Where did my trigger points come from?” Barbara and Dr. Wendy went over both the physical and nutritional causes. Physically, triggers points can form if there has been some kind of trauma to the muscle or body. Repetitive stress injuries, such as tennis elbow or carpal tunnel, will also allow this to happen. Other physical causes can be as simple as insufficient sleep or poor posture. Stress, and its effect on our bodies, is also a factor. Nutritionally, too little magnesium will mean your muscles will have a harder time relaxing. Too little of the B vitamins and you won’t handle stress well. Research is even showing that a vitamin D deficiency causes achy muscles.
“So now what? Is there anything we can do at home?” we asked. Dr. Josh and Barbara went over some simple exercises and stretches that can be done at home to counteract the bad positions we put ourselves in throughout the day. Dr. Wendy (left) stressed the importance of good sleep hygiene: sleeping in a dark room; going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, preferably before 11 PM. After all, sleep is when our bodies to their best healing work. Taking a good B-complex and magnesium supplement is something that everyone should do. Dr. Wendy highly recommends the Shaklee vitamins that you can get through Missy Baxter, one of our other sponsors. I know I’ve seen a difference in the results I’ve gotten from her supplements vs. what I was using before — especially with the B-Complex!
To get professional treatment on your stubborn trigger points, many options are available. Dr. Josh provides chiropractic adjustment, as well as manual treating of trigger points and other therapeutic methods. He also provides counsel on your overall health, such as nutrition, exercise, posture, etc. I’ve found that for me, chiropractic has been an indispensable part of my pain management program.
Dr. Wendy can treat your trigger points by helping you address your overall health needs. She frequently prescribes deep breathing and/or meditation to help her patients deal with the stress in their lives. As both a naturopath and a licensed acupuncturist, she helps to treat you from the inside and from the outside. Acupuncture and chinese medicine can be used quite effectively on trigger points. There have been many studies done on the effectiveness of acupuncture for fibromyalgia and pain in general. I actually get acupuncture every other week and it’s helped with my chronic migraines, fibromyalgia, and even my IBS! For trigger points specifically, there is a technique called “dry needling” where the acupuncture needles are placed directly into the trigger points to cause them to relax.
As a massage therapist, Barbara (right) uses manual methods, as well as several different tools to work on your trigger points. She uses hot stones, stretching and cupping, along with her regular massage techniques. Several months ago I went to Barbara to have her work on some trigger points and my legs for some fibromyalgia pain I was having. She used the cupping techniques on my neck, back, arms and legs. In an experiment, we decided to have her do just one of my legs. After that appointment, the sharp “ice pick” pains I would have in my legs went away on the leg she did the cupping on! A month later, I went back and had her “fix” my other leg! I receive massage every other week, alternating with acupuncture, to help keep my pain levels low. I find that if I go too long between massages, my pain levels increase.
Our other sponsor for the evening, Dr. Travis Evans from Lakeside Family Cosmetic Dentistry, quite often deals with trigger points when he is working with clients who are having jaw pain. The TMJ (temporomandibular joint, or jaw joint) is the most complicated joint in the body; multiple muscles control the opening and closing of the jaw. Trigger points in this area can cause pain that can actually mimic toothaches, among other things.
If you’re looking for someone to help you with your trigger points, let me know. I have several different people I can refer you to.
Enjoyed the post and got some useful tips from Dr. Josh and Barbara. Will try these exercises out for sure.
Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Thanks for this post on Trigger Points. As a physiotherapist, I see patients who suffer from pain caused by trigger points all the time. I have realized very quickly that some trigger points respond to manual therapies, acupuncture, stretching and others respond but only temporarily. By the following session, these stubborn trigger points come right back. I have noticed that the trigger points that return are often in muscles that are reacting to something else, such as a stiff joint, a joint hyper-mobility or poor alignment of the spine. Once the root problem is resolved, the trigger point too resolves.