What is a Myofascial Trigger Point?
Myofascial Trigger Points (MTrP), a type of ashi point, are tender spots in the muscles that are either right in an area of pain, or at some distance from the pain in a related area of the body.
When treating pain, it is important to differentiate between different types of ashi points to treat them effectively. A large healthy muscle with one or two tender spots will respond well to direct needling (ie “dry needling”). However, if the entire muscle is short and tight, or if there are multiple areas of pain that are not limited to individual muscles, then I will start with an acupuncture technique that can reduce tension and pain throughout a broad area.
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For example, if an athlete develops acute shoulder pain in the days following an intense workout, it might be possible to identify one or two MTrPs in the deltoid muscle on the affected side. Direct needling of these points will bring immediate relief to the affected muscle fibers.
As a counter-example, if someone has persistent shoulder and neck tension from working at a computer, and wakes up one morning unable to turn their head to one side, it is likely that multiple muscle groups are in spasm. In this case, dry needling would be inappropriate, and I would start with a distal approach that releases the entire neck and shoulder, including the trapezius, levator scapulae, deep cervical paraspinal muscles, etc.