Trigger point therapy is a bodywork technique that involves the application of pressure to tender muscle tissue in order to relieve pain and dysfunction in other parts of the body. It may also be called myofascial (myo meaning muscle, fascial meaning connective tissue) trigger point therapy. Trigger point therapy is sometimes regarded as one of a group of treatment aproaches called neuromuscular therapy or NMT. Myotherapy, developed by Bonnie Prudden, is a related type of trigger point therapy.
Trigger point therapy was developed by Dr. Janet Travell in the United States in the 1940s; she is credited with having first used the phrase "trigger point" in print in 1942. Through her work and events in her personal life, Travell advanced the theory that pain experienced in one part of the body is actually caused by an injury or dysfunction in another part of the body. Ultimately, she mapped what she termed the body's trigger points and the manner in which pain radiates to the rest of the body. Travell's work came to national attention when she treated President John F. Kennedy for his back pain.
Trigger points are thought to result from a variety of causes, including birth trauma, hypoglycemia, vitamin B6 deficiency, food allergies, traumatic injuries, poor posture, skeletal asymmetry, overexertion, or such diseases of the digestive tract as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. During times of physical or emotional stress, the points cause muscles to spasm. Travell's therapy called for the injection of saline (a salt solution) and procaine (also known as Novocaine, an anesthetic) into the trigger point. Although beneficial in the relief of pain, the injections are a painful procedure for some people.
In the 1970s, Bonnie Prudden, a physical fitness and exercise therapist, found that applying sustained pressure to a trigger point also relieved pain. Prudden developed her techniques over a number of years and called the treatments myotherapy. Myotherapy is beneficial to patients who find that trigger point injections are too painful.
Mary McNulty, Rebecca J. Frey PhD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,