Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger point therapy is a form of manual therapy that focuses on on detecting and releasing trigger points. Located in the skeletal muscle, trigger points are spots that produce pain when compressed. In many cases, trigger points form as a result of trauma to the muscle fibers.

Typically used to treat pain-related conditions, trigger point therapy is sometimes referred to as myofascial trigger point therapy or neuromuscular therapy. A number of techniques can be used to release trigger points, including massage therapy, chiropractic care, and dry needling.

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Uses for Trigger Point Therapy

In alternative medicine, trigger point therapy is used to treat a number of chronic pain conditions, including:

In addition, some people use trigger point therapy as a treatment for osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tinnitus, migraines, sciatica, and sports injuries.

Trigger Point Therapy vs. Traditional Acupuncture

One common form of trigger point therapy is dry needling, a technique that involves inserting a needle (without medication or injection) into trigger points. Dry needling should not be confused with acupuncture, a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves using needles to stimulate points thought to connect with pathways that carry vital energy (or "chi") throughout the body.

While there is some overlap between trigger point sites and acupuncture point sites, trigger point therapy is not focused on improving the flow of chi. Furthermore, while acupuncture is used to treat a broad range of health problems, trigger point therapy is primarily used for the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders.


Preliminary research indicates that trigger point therapy may help manage tension headaches, according to a 2012 report from Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. However, there is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the use of trigger point therapy in the treatment of tension headaches.

Heel Pain

Trigger point therapy may help relieve plantar heel pain, suggests a small study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy in 2011.

For the study, 60 people with plantar heel plan were split into two groups: One group regularly performed stretching exercises, while the other group underwent trigger point therapy (in addition to following the same stretching routine as the first group). After a month, the group who received trigger point therapy showed a greater improvement in physical function and a greater decrease in pain.

How to Use Trigger Point Therapy

If you're interested in undergoing trigger point therapy, consult your physician for help in finding a qualified practitioner.

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend trigger point therapy as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using trigger point therapy for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.

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Article Sources
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  1. Trigger Point Dry Needling. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2017;47(3):150. doi:10.2519/jospt.2017.0502

  2. Alonso-blanco C, De-la-llave-rincón AI, Fernández-de-las-peñas C. Muscle trigger point therapy in tension-type headache. Expert Rev Neurother. 2012;12(3):315-22. doi:10.1586/ern.11.138

  3. Renan-ordine R, Alburquerque-sendín F, De souza DP, Cleland JA, Fernández-de-las-peñas C. Effectiveness of myofascial trigger point manual therapy combined with a self-stretching protocol for the management of plantar heel pain: a randomized controlled trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011;41(2):43-50. doi:10.2519/jospt.2011.3504

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