The Pain & Injury Doctor ONLINE Newsletter

Here is your latest pain relief tip. If it doesn’t apply to you, still take note because life is full of surprises. If you know someone who is dealing with this type of pain, please forward this email to that person– thanks!

Myofascial Pain and Muscle Trigger Points

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What is Happening:

Myo means muscle; fascia is the thin, fibrous connective tissue that covers and contains muscles. So myofascial pain is a general term doctors use to describe pain originating in the muscles and/or fascia that is the result of dysfunction of muscle fibers and/or injury to the muscle and fascia. It can be acute (recent injury) or chronic (greater than a few weeks).

Myofascial pain usually occurs with trigger points. A trigger point (the areas marked “x” in the image above) is a small (about the size of your finger tip) area on a muscle that is usually palpable (you can feel a small bump on your muscle when you press on it) and is very tender. When pressed, it “triggers” pain in another area.

For example, a trigger point in your upper trapezius muscle (upper shoulder) can trigger pain up the side of your neck.

A skeletal muscle like your biceps is comprised of special proteins called actin and myosin. These form the contractile (able to lengthen and shorten) fibers that enable the muscle to perform work.  When a small patch of these actin and myosin fibers continue to contract on their own, it creates a trigger point. The pain may be due to the chemicals released from muscle contraction (primarily lactic acid) irritating sensory nerve fibers around the muscle. Researches believe this can be caused by overuse of any kind, or can be a chronic effect of a direct injury to the muscle.

Recommended Home Therapy Products Covered in Today’s Newsletter:

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Self-Treating Myofascial Pain and Muscle Trigger Points

If you can get those small patches of actin and myosin to reset, the trigger point will dissipate. Otherwise, it will remain chronic.

It is relatively easy to do trigger point therapy on yourself. Using the tip of your index finger, gently press down into the trigger point (don’t use excessive force).  It will feel like a small, tender bump more dense than the surrounding muscle.  When you press down on it firmly, pain will shoot to distal area, in a predictable pattern (the red spray areas depicted in the image at the top of this page).  The bump “triggers” pain elsewhere; hence the name.

What you are doing is blanching the blood out of this part of the muscle. Count to 10, and when you are at 7 take in a long, deep breath (keep counting). Let go of the trigger point at 10 seconds. This pushes oxygen into the abnormal area, which can relax the contraction. Rest for two minutes; repeat two more times.

If the trigger point is unreachable, you’ll need the assistance of another person, or you can use a backnobber or similar trigger point therapy device.

After your trigger point therapy, use a red light therapy device directly on the trigger point to stimulate ATP (energy) production in the muscle cells. This reduces inflammation. Two, sixty-second doses are sufficient.

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TendLite Red Light Therapy Device

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Studies show that red light has therapeutic effects on human tissue, similar to how sunlight stimulates plants to produce energy (sugar) in their leaves. It stimulates cells to increase ATP (energy) production, which enhances tissue repair and regeneration, and reduces inflammation. This can be helpful in deactivating painful trigger points.

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Use an acupuncture pen on your trigger point. The small electrical charge may be able to alter the action potential that is driving the trigger point. Do five quick clicks, rest, and do a second time.

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Needle Free Acupuncture Pen

Use this device directly on trigger points to deactivate them. Rather than using a needle, it generates a small, electrical shock via small crystals. It is a great alternative for those who are afraid of needles.

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Use a power massager like the Max2 on your trigger point. The high frequency vibration can fatigue contracted muscle fibers and cause them to release.

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Max2 Two Node Percussion Massager

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This is a professional grade vibrational massager with two treatment heads. Tonic vibration reflex occurs when a high frequency vibration applied to a spasmed muscle causes it to release its contraction. Use the Max2 to relax spasmed, tight muscles such as the hamstring, calves, upper shoulders and paraspinal muscles.

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Apply TENS muscle stim directly over the trigger point. Do this only if the above do not give you relief:

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TENS Electric Muscle Stimulator for Pain Management

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Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators (TENS) send small, pulsed electrical currents through your skin which are picked up by sensory nerves in the area. These electrical signals “compete” with nerve pain signals generated from an injured/ painful area; thus reducing their perception in the brain.

The electrical pulses can also disrupt involuntary muscle contractions (spasms) in trigger points. Switch the pulse and frequency on subsequent sessions if you aren’t getting results:

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Myofascial pain usually affects large muscles such as the upper traps, quadriceps and hamstrings, the ideal size for a muscle roller stick. Use one to massage the area, bringing blood and oxygen to the muscle and trigger points.

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Muscle Roller Stick

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Use this device for relief of cramping,tightness and soreness in the legs; especially after a run or long hike. Great for treating myofascial pain is in the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.

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Finally, consider using an infrared sauna. Infrared saunas emit radiant heat and therapeutic red light deep into muscles. This reduces inflammation, increases circulation and oxygen delivery to muscle tissue. You get a good sweat, which helps flush out potential toxin irritants. Afterwards, take a cool shower.

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Personal Infrared Sauna

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The infrared light and heat from this portable sauna penetrates deep into muscles. Infrared light enhances cellular energy production, thereby improving tissue healing and reducing inflammation. You get a good sweat as well, which eliminates toxins through the skin.

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BOTTOM LINE:  Myofascial pain and trigger points are different from sprains and strains in that they involve abnormal nerve stimulation and involuntary muscle fiber contractions. The techniques mentioned here attempt to ease pain while disrupting abnormal nerve stimulation and muscle contractions, thus eliminating trigger point areas.

These are some of the products I recommend to patients suffering from myofascial pain and trigger points. Most patients report good to great results; therefore, you have a very good chance of experiencing the same results.  They are generally safe to use, but check with your doctor. ~Dr. Perez

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For more detailed, step-by-step guidance on permanently resolving chronic muscle and joint pain, visit

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The information contained in this email and on www.PainandInjuryDoctor.com is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as a medical directive. It is provided as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dan Perez, D.C. Every person is unique, and individual cases of pain are therefore unique. Dr. Perez encourages readers of PainandInjuryDoctor.com to use available sources of information to help them make a more educated and informed decision regarding their health, in partnership with one or more qualified health care professionals.

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