Trigger points are described as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. The palpable nodules are said to be small contraction knots and a common cause of pain. Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or local twitch response. A trigger point is an area of a muscle (about 50 cells) that may refer pain sensations to other parts of the body. Manual pressure is applied to these points. This work was founded by Dr. Janet G. Travell, U.S. President John F. Kennedy's physician and David Simons. This work can be incorporated into other styles of massage therapy such as neuromuscular therapy (NMT) or Swedish.

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