Trigger point massage involves the use of a gentle circular massage on muscle tender points to reduce pain and muscle spasms which improves range of movement and blood flow
What do these trigger points consist of?
Jay Shah at Bethesda Hospital, Maryland, USA demonstrated various altered neurochemical substances within the muscle milieu. The following slides are from a presentation which I attended in 2012.
Trigger Point palpation
Trigger point - gluteus medius
Trigger Points : piriformis, gluteus maximus, quadratus lumborum, levator ani
Trigger Point - adductor magnus. Note the anal referral which is common amongst cyclists who use the adductors to power hip extension
Trigger Points : Obturator Internus and pelvic floor
Trigger point - iliopsoas
Dry Needling of Trigger Points
Normalisation of the biochemical and neurochemical and immunobiological milieu can occur with dry needling (Jah Shah).
Fibroblasts and Loose Connective Tissue
At the APA conference in Sydney during October 2009, Dr Helene Longevin presented her research into the effects of stretching subcutaneous tissue. Superficial and deep fascia are composed of loose and dense connective tissue layers. The loose layers allow dense layers to glide past one another. This tissue contains abundant fibroblasts, immune cells and neurovascular bundles. A 20% static stretch of loose connective tissue for 30minutes significantly increases the size of fibroblasts in vivo and in vitro. Although this mechanism remains unclear it is hypothesised to be due to microtubule reorganisation (Beta-tubulin). Inhibition of growth kinase and Roc prevents the cells from spreading out. Actine polymerisation occurs at the leading edge. Fibro-attraction occurs whereby fibroblasts push forward at it's front edge, whilst retracting the rear (through Rho). Both Rac and Rho are activated simultaneously. The fibroblasts microtubule assembly contributes to connective tissue (C.T) relaxation, which means that tense in connective tissue is actively regulated. Viscoelastic response of loose connective tissue is influenced by specific cytoskeletal inhibitors. Rac increases the equilibrium force. Active C.T tensioin regulation may occur normally in response to sustained chnages in tissue length (e.g. hift in body position). This role may be to prevent sustained mechanical stimulation of other cells within the C.T (immune cells, nerve fibres, blood vessels).
The dense C.T fibroblasts don't respond to stretch due to the stiff matrix preventing the fibroblasts from receiving any strain. Scarring due to injury causes an increase in dense C.T which can be pevented by 10minutes, 2 times per day for 1 week in a suspended tail animal model. The combination of reduced movement and inflammation is a recipe for fibrosis. R-T US can be used as feedback during dry needling to observe C.T movement. In people suffering low back pain the fascial layers are less fluid and less differentiated. Additionally, people with LBP have hicker perivascular C.T. Involuntary muscle spasms may decrease the relative C.T motion during passive movement. Conversely, increased C.T thickness, stiffness and/or viscosity may affect the passive stiffness and range of movement of adjacent muscles.
Intrinsic tension within C.T will have profound effects in the cells within it such as blood vessel precursors stimulating angiogenesis. Similarly, immune cells may be affected by this tension. High amplitude or repetitive tissue stretch may cause injury but can also increase C.T strength. Low amplitude stretch within or slightly beyond the usual ROM may help maintain appropriate mobility and dynamic tissue response. Hence this may represent strong eveidence for STM, dry needling, joint mobilisations, muscle energy techniques, strain-counterstrain techniques and training with Whole Body Vibration.
Uploaded : 26 October 2010
Updated : 30 October 2021