If you can accept the idea that an overly tight muscle can cause problems in the body, you can understand how trigger point acupuncture helps people. Tight muscles can restrict blood flow and digestion. This tension can also pull joints out of normal alignment, put pressure on nerves and generally produce pain and other health problems.
Trigger point acupuncture directly addresses unnaturally tight muscles. Using only their hands, the acupuncturist probes likely offending muscles looking for the tight ones. An acupuncturist inserts a tiny needle into the muscle and gently manipulates the muscle. The muscle responds with an involuntary twitch.The muscle typically twitches for up to 30 seconds under repeated probing but eventually stops. After 5-20 probes, the muscle pulsing stops due to exhaustion and the tension it was causing is also greatly diminished.
A traditional treatment has the acupuncturist inserting needles into the points described thousands of years ago. The needles are then left in for 5 to 20 minutes Some practitioners will rotate or slightly stimulate the needles but the treatment is largely static. In contrast, trigger point treatment is very active for a portion of the treatment with the explicit goal of causing muscle twitching in knotty or tight muscles. Later the needles are left in similarly to Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The reactions I see are all over the map. Some people just lie there and don’t respond. Others jump when their muscles first jump. Some say they are feeling a sharp pain. Others vocalize along with the twitching. The rare few are very vocal, sometimes with profanity. Some people feel no pain, others significant amount. After the treatment, most are sore as if they had a hard workout, Almost all feel the tension reduction under the soreness. Most say “it was worth it”.
The results people feel are all over the map. Some patients feel immediate relief from their complaint and leave stunned that something so simple has given them at least relief from their long lasting issue. Others take a few treatments for relief. Some people are cured in a few treatments and need a maintenance treatment every month or two. Some patients get noticeable relief but never cure.
This indirect treatment location is one of the reasons that people mis-understand acupuncture. Maybe they have heel pain and the acupuncturist is treating their calf muscles. Perhaps they have elbow pain and the treatment is to the forearm. The treatment is not directly where the pain is felt, but the muscles are related . The body is an amazing, interconnected system of mechanical, chemical and electrical parts. Of course a problem in one part of the body can cause a symptom in another. Wiggle your fingers and watch your forearm. Watch peoples calf while they walk.
Take a look at my videos to see the muscular twitching caused by trigger point.