Trigger Point FAQ

What is a Trigger Point ?

It is an knot in a muscle that causes pain. This pain is often in a related part of the body but not necessarily where the trigger point is located. The trigger point just feels like a tight muscle.

How is Trigger Point Acupuncture Different than Dry Needling?

It’s not.

What is Trigger Point Acupuncture ?

It’s an aggressive form of acupuncture where trigger points are the focus. The diagnostic and treatment approach includes finding the trigger points and releasing the tension.

The idea that a problem is at the location of the pain is a frequently missed opportunity to solve a particular problem. Many conventional treatments focus on the location of the pain. The actual cause is frequently a trigger point that is not located directly where the pain is experienced.

How Does Trigger Point Acupuncture Work ?

By finding the muscular cause of your problem and releasing it with acupuncture needles … causing involuntary twitching in the exact muscle group. One thing that leads people to think that their problem is not treatable by acupuncture is that the triggering muscular problem is often pain-free and not directly where they are experiencing pain and therefore hard to detect. This diversion often leads to improper identification of the problem.

Where do trigger points come from?

Misuse, overuse, injuries, stress. Bad posture can cause muscles to activate to stabilize your balance. An injury in one leg can cause a different gait or stride. Over training causes the muscles to adapt and not always in an expected way.

What Does Trigger Point Acupuncture Treat ?

Many problems. The key understanding to the answer to this question is “what is the cause of the problem?” Many problems are caused by a trigger point in a related, but distant muscle group that itself is not producing any pain and therefore not “on the radar” regarding the cause. So tennis elbow is caused by a tight forearm muscle 4-5 inches away. Planters fasciitis (bottom of the foot pain) is most often caused by a trigger points in the mid-calf muscle. For both of these problems, the typical MD will prescribe muscle relaxants or cortisone injections at the location of the pain, I treat the related and sometimes not directly located tight muscle.

How can I tell if my problem is treatable with Trigger Point Acupuncture?

There is no universal test, but a pretty good one is in monitoring your problem … does it feel better with use, or worse with use? Although this rule is not the only answer to the question, it often is a sign that your problem is muscular in nature and therefore treatable using trigger point acupuncture.

Does Trigger Point Acupuncture Hurt ?

For some people a bit, for others not too much. The involuntary twitching causes a burning sensation comparable to advanced muscle fatigue. This sensation is very localized and some soreness occurs for about 24 hours after the treatment.

I hate needles, can you help me?

To be blunt, do you prefer harsh medicines with side effects, or surgery? Although there is no guarantee that any one type of treatment will solve your problem, including acupuncture, there are no treatment approaches safer than the tiny needles inserted into muscular groups. These needles are MUCH smaller than a typical syringe. The needles are produced under FDA regulation, are sterile, and single use. There are non-needle treatments but are generally much less effective than the direct manipulation of the suspect muscle group. Acupuncture is truly a “first do no harm” treatment.

Are there common myths about Acupuncture?

Yes, the idea that needles are stuck into nerves is wrong. Needles are inserted into muscles. Acupuncturists must be well-versed in human anatomy in order to know the safe locations to insert needles.


Rhonda B. Hogan, C.A. is a Licensed Acupuncturist (NJ & NY) who specializes in trigger point acupuncture for active people and athletes.Find her at She holds a Masters in Acupuncture and a Bachelors of Arts in Biology (Lehigh). She has been a competitive medium distance runner, and is currently an avid hiker and yoga fan. Contact her to discuss your problem.

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