Lower Back Pain
Back problems are often misdiagnosed. Your pain may have nothing to do with your spine. There’s a good chance it may be nothing more serious than referred pain from myofascial trigger points (tiny contraction knots) in your back muscles, or even in muscles some distance away.
Pain in your low back, for example, can be referred from trigger points in a number of muscles, such as the gluteus medius in your buttocks, as shown in the drawings.
Upper and Mid Back Pain
Pain in the upper or mid back can come from trigger points in the muscles of the back itself, or it can come from muscles in other places. Here are a few examples:
Trigger points in the scalene muscles of the front and side of your neck can generate a constant irritating ache between your shoulder blades in your upper back. A trigger point in the serratus anterior muscle under your arm can cause a persistent middle back ache at the lower tip of your shoulder blade.
Trigger points in the upper part of your rectus abdominis (stomach) muscle can be responsible for a band of pain across your mid back. No kind of therapy applied to the back itself will relieve these kinds of pain.
Even when back pain is due to genuine problems in your spine, trigger points may still be causing a major part of your pain. Doctors Janet Travell and David Simons, the foremost authorities on myofascial pain, believe that trigger points may actually be the root cause of many genuine spinal problems, such as a prolapsed or herniated disc, because of the muscle tension they maintain. Trigger points keep muscles shortened and tight. This can be the ultimate source of disk compression and spinal nerve impingement.
Misdiagnosis of Back Pain
X-ray evidence of arthritis or compressed disks is often used to justify surgery for back pain, although, as Doctors Travell and Simons point out, it’s not uncommon to find such abnormalities in people who never suffer back pain. In other words, you may indeed have spinal arthritis or a compressed disk, or apparent symptoms of lumbar or cervical spinal stenosis, but trigger points in overworked muscles can still be the actual cause of the problem.
Failed Back Syndrome
Pain from myofascial trigger points that remains after surgery can be greatly mystifying and frustrating to both doctor and patient. It’s disturbing to think that trigger points may have been the only thing needing treatment in the first place.
Hidden Risks in Physical Therapy
Physical therapy for back pain in the form of exercise and stretching can irritate trigger points and make them worse, as thousands of patients can attest. Exercising in an attempt to strengthen the abdominal muscles can be especially risky when unsuspected abdominal trigger points are the hidden source of your back pain. Exercise and stretching are valuable and effective forms of therapy but can actually worsen back problems for many people unless their trigger points are first deactivated.
Natural Backache Remedy
Trigger points should be at the top of the list during any examination for back pain. 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 efficiently and effectively.
Self-applied trigger point massage is an appropriate and unusually effective remedy for back pain, because it goes to the source of the problem. It’s only a matter of knowing where to look for the right trigger points and knowing the right techniques to use. Deactivation of trigger points stops the pain and allows the muscles to lengthen naturally, thereby relieving strain on the spine.
The illustration shows self-treatment of lower back pain with massage of the gluteus medius and maximus muscles using a tennis ball or lacrosse ball against a wall.
See The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook for more details on how to self-treat the many other muscles whose trigger points can cause upper, middle, and lower back pain.
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.