Origins of Trigger Point Therapy

The term “trigger point” was coined in 1942 by renown physician, Janet Travell, MD. Dr. Travell was the first female Personal Physician to the President and cured President John F. Kennedy of his chronic back pain.

Dr. Travell published extensively about trigger points, and demonstrated that each trigger point has a specific referral pattern. She established the treatment protocols currently followed by well-trained myofascial therapists throughout the world.

What Conditions Does this Therapy Help?

Because muscle tissue makes up a large percentage the body, nearly any dysfunction can impact muscles. I treat the muscular component of many conditions affecting the body including (but not limited to):

  • Neck and Back Pain
  • Shoulder, Arm and Hand Pain
  • Knee, Leg, Ankle and Foot Pain
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis/Bursitis/Tendinitis
  • Headaches
  • TMJ
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Tennis Elbow

Who Does this Therapy Benefit?

People who can benefit from trigger point therapy include

  • athletes of all ages and skill levels,  whose pain or restricted range of motion  impedes regular workouts, fitness goals, or motivation;
  • anyone who feels too “old and stiff” to enjoy the leisure activities that have brought them pleasure in the past;
  • those who have been told that they simply have to “live with” their knee, shoulder, neck or back pain, but who are determined to feel better.


Describe a Typical Visit

A typical trigger point therapy visit begins with:

  • A Complete history
  • A postural analysis
  • Range of motion testing

Clothing is on during the entire visit…occasionally you might to bring shorts and a t-shirt for access to skin. Treatment consists primarily of trigger point pressure release, which involves moving the client into diffferent positions to place the muscle being treated on a slight stretch. The client will be asked report when pain begins, whether it refers to another area, and when it dissipates.

Sometimes other therapy modalities are needed. They may include:

  • Myofascial release, designed to stretch the connective tissue that wraps around the muscles;
  • Vapocoolant Spray and Stretch, where coolant spray is used to distract the central nervous system, while the therapist elongates the muscle tissue to a stretched position;
  • Heat, to warm and relax muscles;
  • Contract-relax and/or isometric therapies intended to increase range of motion of previously inhibited or overworked muscles.

Each visit generally includes an evaluation of the factors that have caused or perpetuated the particular pain complaint. This may include postural habits, mechanical issues (such as poorly-fitting shoes); structural irregularities and other relevant factors.

Finally, the client is given a program of simple movements and self -treatment techniques to speed recovery and reduce the chance of recurrence. This program typically starts with one or two techniques per session, and builds up from there.


  • Referral to other care providers if noticeable improvement is not made within 3-7 visits.


How Many Visits Does it Take?

Of course, every individual is different in this regard. Generally, if a pain complaint does not improve within 4-8 visits, a referral may be made to evaluate other causes of the client’s pain.