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How Do You Measure a Trigger Point?

Mélanie Roch and Nathaly Gaudreault

 

Trigger points can be very painful.  A trigger point is defined as a band of contracted muscle fibers whose stimulation (palpation, pressure or physical activity) can cause pain and impaired movement pattern. The impact of trigger points is far from negligible: in the shoulder, they can cause headaches as well as shoulder and upper back pain that can lead to limitations in activities and compromise quality of life.
 

Physiotherapists mainly rely on palpation to locate and diagnose trigger points, and many use dry needling as a treatment option. However, there is a need for a tool to objectively characterize trigger points, and the effects of dry needling are still unclear. Physiotherapist Mélanie Roch (pictured above) and her supervisors, Dr. Nathaly Gaudreault and Dr. Mélanie Morin, are conducting a study at Université de Sherbrooke to document the validity and reliability of the MyotonPro, a tool that can provide a measure of the stiffness of a trigger point. She is also studying the sensitivity to change of this tool after dry needling is applied to a trigger point.
 

Our team would like to thank the donors of the Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada for supporting our research project. Trigger points are sometimes ignored, partly due to the lack of tool that can objectively characterize them. Thanks to your donation, our work will fill this gap so that more research can be done to study the effectiveness of interventions targeting this painful condition.
 

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May is National Physiotherapy Month in Canada. During this time, and throughout the year, please give generously so important and innovative projects like this one can continue to be funded. Thank you for transforming lives through physiotherapy research and education.