Trigger points are said to be highly irritable spots in bands of tight muscle tissue, which are painful when pressed on, and which often refer pain and other sensations in “well-mapped out” predictable patterns that are specific to each muscle and trigger point.
According to this article in MassageMag:
How To Fix Elbow Pain With Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy
“Whether caused by tendonitis or referred pain, golfer’s or tennis elbow stems from trigger points in one or more of the muscles noted...”I have to begin by saying, I don't think it's quite accurate to say that Tennis or Golfer's Elbow is “caused by Tendonitis or referred pain...”
But rather that Golfer's or Tennis Elbow can either be a “real” tendon dysfunction like Tendonitis...
(Although medical research over the past 30 years tells us that it's much more likely to be Tendinosis than Tendonitis.)
OR it can be Tennis Elbow-like pain that is actually a referred pain pattern caused by Trigger Points elsewhere.
I don't deny the existence of Trigger Points. (I would be surprised to find many Bodyworkers who do!)
But I do regard them as secondary symptoms, as in symptoms that cause other symptoms.
I don't regard them as the primary cause of the dysfunction – Not as the root of the problem.
The article goes on to say that:
“These trigger points must be deactivated to restore the muscles to a pain-free and fully functional condition.”I know I may be splitting hairs, but the way I see it is the other way around:
Once you release the adhesions in a muscle (and do whatever else may be necessary) and restore it to full function…
THEN the Trigger Points will be deactivated.
In the process of working on a muscle I may occasionally spend some time on a trigger point or two…
(It's often highly instructive to the patient/client to feel their pain pattern magnified – often dramatically – by the pressure on the Trigger Point)...
But I don't “chase them down,” so to speak, as a primary treatment goal.
Lastly is the claim, (still in reference Tennis Elbow) that:
“Fortunately, the muscles are easy to treat...”Well, I've been specializing in treating Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow for something like 15 years now, and as good as I've become at it, it's still not something I can honestly say is “easy” to treat.
It's not impossible – (Although some people do have very difficult cases) – But if it were that easy it wouldn't be something that people spend over 10 Billion Dollars a year trying to treat.
Here's more on the subject of self massage in my latest full-length post at Tennis Elbow Classroom:
The Best Tennis Elbow Self Massage Techniques
For the origin of the Trigger Point perpective, see:
Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, Vol. 1 - Upper Half of Body