Chest pain diagnosed as angina, heart pain, pleurisy, and costochondritis (inflammation of the ribs) may actually be referred pain from myofascial trigger points (tiny contraction knots) in strained or overworked pectoral muscles of the chest. Pain from these trigger points can also lead to the supposition that you have a separated rib, an ulcer, or gallbladder trouble.
These are some of the surprising discoveries by Doctors Janet Travell and David Simons, revealed in their widely acclaimed medical textbook, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. The trigger points shown here in the pectoralis major muscle can cause pain that feels like angina from the heart.
Trigger points in chest muscles can cause distortions of your posture that promote shallow breathing and shortness of breath. Tenderness, pain and breathing difficulties caused by these trigger points are often mistaken for symptoms of emphysema, hiatal hernia, or lung disease.
Travell and Simons also found that pectoral trigger points can refer pain to your upper back. In middle-aged women, trigger points in chest muscles can contribute significantly to development of a dowager’s hump by keeping the shoulders and head pulled forward. A complicating factor in finding the source of chest wall or rib cage pain is the fact that it doesn't always come from trigger points in chest muscles. It can be referred just as often from back muscles or from the scalene muscles in the neck. The following three drawings show scalene trigger points and the patterns of pain they send to the chest and back.
It goes without saying that your chest symptoms can be signs of a true medical problem. Nevertheless, Doctors Travell and Simons believe that trigger points are the primary cause of pain and that the public suffers needlessly because too many doctors are still uninformed about them. Physicians who are unaware of the myofascial causes of chest pain can be led to a wide range of mistaken diagnoses and misdirected treatment, including needless surgery.
When pain comes from trigger points, it's not unusual for diagnosis to entirely elude the physician, who then is apt to write the problem off as minor or imaginary and categorize it as untreatable. Trigger points should be at the top of the list during any examination for pain in the chest, sides, or upper back.
When healthcare practitioners have had adequate training and experience, trigger points are easy to locate and treat. In fact, there are ways to treat them yourself quite effectively.
In The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, nationally certified massage therapist Clair Davies has simplified Travell and Simons’s extensive research into myofascial pain and made it accessible to the layman. His innovative methods of self-applied trigger point massage will relieve pain in the lower legs, ankles, and feet when trigger points are the cause.
To find out more about the book and the method, please visit the homepage. To read a growing number of reviews by people who have been helped by the book, take a look at the book’s page at Amazon.com.