Effective Trigger Point Therapy for Muscle Knots

Updated on December 20, 2017
Stacie L profile image

I suffered for years with painful knots in my right shoulder blade. Trigger point therapy worked well for me to relieve the pain.

Trigger Point Therapy for Muscle Knots
Trigger Point Therapy for Muscle Knots

Painful Muscle Knots

If you've ever had muscle pain that lasted for months or even years, then you know how debilitating it can be. Many people who suffer from pain in the back, shoulders, and neck region find little relief.

Trigger point therapy, or myofascial therapy, is a simple idea that concentrates on certain muscle knots and connective tissue injuries that create pain and pressure.

Therapists have played a major role in the relief of muscle pain, but now there are products available that patients can utilize themselves. This alternative approach to surgery, prescription pain relievers, and massages is a way for patients to gain some control over their own therapy.

Some claim that trigger point therapy can help with fibromyalgia pain, which is a long-term, body-wide pain, including tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues.

These two sources of pain are often referred to other locations other than the initial point of pain.

My own trigger point pain

I became interested in trigger point therapy because I had suffered for years with painful knots on the right shoulder blade. Massages worked temporarily, chiropractic worked for a few days, and pain relievers are not a good idea for long-term use.

Since I was told about trigger points each time I went for massage or adjustment, I decided to do some more research into the topic.

It seems that muscles knots can be relieved when a certain amount of pressure is applied. Since I couldn't afford the weekly adjustments and massages, I discovered some products that do the job easily and quickly. My year-long knot was very painful to work on for the first few weeks, but eventually it released, and now I am almost pain-free.

The constant overuse of repetitive motions, such as sitting at a desk all day and using a computer, can create intense pain that doesn't respond to traditional therapies. Athletes also suffer from myofascial pain from repetitive motions on the field.

John F. Kennedy's back pain relief

John F. Kennedy's personal physician, Dr. Janet Travell, first introduced the idea of working on trigger points of pain and reducing the referred pain that was often difficult to locate. She was a tremendous aide in alleviating John F. Kennedy's back pain to the point that he could lead a more normal life and run successfully for the presidency.

Only close friends and staff knew just how much pain President Kennedy had endured on a daily basis. Dr. Travell's revolutionary treatments made a world of difference for Kennedy's quality of life, as well as that of many others.

Most sources of pain are referred from another location in the back so massage therapy attempts to work out the knots. Finding the triggers can eliminate irritated nerves and begin the healing process.

The following complaints respond well to myofascial or trigger point therapy. It takes a little time and practice so patience is necessary.

  • knee pain
  • headaches
  • frozen shoulder
  • rotator cuff pain
  • TMJ pain
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • neck stiffness

For a more in-depth explanation, I recommend reading The Trigger Point Therapy Book. It provides more information to help you understand why you are in pain and how to relieve it. Most physicians do not discuss these techniques or know anything about them. It helps to be an informed patient and know there are alternatives for your muscle pains.

There are many products that aid in your pain relief. They have various functions, shapes, and techniques. Basically all require a light pressure on the painful area to gently release the pressure on the nerves. They can help alleviate headaches, tight muscles, neck, shoulder, and back pain.


The first product has been in existence for many years. Originally produced in Finland, it is called the Finnhook. It is made from birch plywood and folds up for easy travel.

It is small enough to pack in an overnight bag or purse. It is so simple a product that it doesn't look like it would do anything, but it does. It is small enough to take anywhere.

Watch the video for a better explanation.


Another more elaborate self massager is the Body Back Buddy.

It is larger S-shape hard plastic device with more rounded and pointed knobs to reach the right area can reach and treat more parts such as the feet, spinal column, shoulders, neck, chest, and buttocks. I found this to be a little too long for my body so it may be more appropriate for taller people to use it.

This is the one that I started out using, but I have switched to the shorted Theracane. I felt that it was better for a taller person to use.


The next product is a larger, hook-shaped, sturdy plastic rod with two handles to provide self massage. It is called a TheraCane has 6 treatment balls on the ends of the cane and projections.

The device can aid in locating and releasing hot spots on your back and other locations that you cannot reach. It also comes with a 12-page booklet, complete with illustrations and instructions on how and where to use it.

Update: I am now using the Thera Cane and it is wonderful for us shorter people. I still recommend any of these, but the Body Buddy was too large for my short stature, so take that into consideration when choosing.

The following video will demonstrate how to use it.

Trigger Point Therapy products for home use

Muscle knots can be helped with at home products that I discussed and use myself. The products are used at home when you cannot get to a therapist.

President John F. Kennedy suffered for years with nagging back pain that he sustained from his military days. He didn't have effective pain relief until he was in the White House and hired Dr. Janet Travell. She pioneered the treatment using trigger points therapy.

I have reviewed the most popular therapy trigger points products, but there are more. I Have personally used the Body Back Buddy and I just can't say enough of how well it works. I now switched to the smaller TheraCane only because I have a smaller torso and frame. They both work well. By rolling the rounded balls to rub up and down the spinal column I can receive a relaxing massage. The rounded end knob has also taken away the constant upper shoulder pain I dealt with for years.

Both The Theracane and Finnhook is half the size of the Body Back Buddy device, but don't let it's size fool you. They are just as effective as the larger version.

There are books on trigger point therapy that everyone should read. Get familiar with the points on your body that can release your muscle knots and pain. Many times the pain is not where you think it is. It is a referred pain, caused by an irritated nerve.

Hopefully you have sought a diagnosis, some previous treatment or at least a consultation before trying these for the first time.

It is just as effective and all of these products will pay for themselves the first time you use them.

I recommend trying one of these. They are not miracle products, and you do need to adjust your work habits. I would like to hear back from my readers if any have used these products.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2011 Stacie L


Submit a Comment
  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    2 years ago

    Thank you for reading my hub on trigger point therapy Mary!

  • Blond Logic profile image

    Mary Wickison 

    2 years ago from Brazil

    Great advice and although I am not suffering from any pain at the moment, I have in the past and know how it affects everything.

    It's good to know about these devices and the trigger points.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    6 years ago

    I'm glad you found this Trigger Point Therapy hub useful.

    Good luck with your healing.

  • Shyron E Shenko profile image

    Shyron E Shenko 

    6 years ago from Texas

    Good info on here, had hand surgery today and typing with great difficulty.

    Voted up and pinned.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    8 years ago

    @Budman610: you are 'hooked' on Theracane! LOL

    Now that's funny!

    Thanks for your comments and testimony. I use it now and it's great!

  • Budman610 profile image


    8 years ago from Ohio

    The Theracane is the bomb! My massage therapist recommended it to me about a year a go and I have been "hooked" since! Hooked!! Haha! Get it?!!

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    8 years ago

    Brett.Tesol: you are so right about massages and doctors in the west! I don't know why western medicine is so expensive but they do have to pay for their expensive education.

    Thanks for commenting.

  • Brett.Tesol profile image

    Brett C 

    8 years ago from Asia

    Interesting and useful in the west where doctors and massages cost a fortune. Trigger points work, as I have had traditional Thai massages ... which can hurt like hell, but you feel great after! lol

    Thanks for SHARING.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    8 years ago

    wavegirl22: I'm glad you found my trigger points therapy hub useful for your frozen shoulder. let me know how you make out after using it. :-)

  • wavegirl22 profile image


    8 years ago from New York, NY

    My frozen shoulder is already loving this Hub! Great information here and you can bet I will be back!

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    8 years ago

    Green Lotus; I'm glad you are going to check out the trigger point devices I mentioned here. It's a simple technique and works wonders!

  • Green Lotus profile image


    8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

    Great stuff Stacie and I am going to look into this too. I believe in dysfunctional muscle memory is helped by deep tissue massage,acupressure and Body Rolling, so trigger point therapy makes a lot of sense. thanks!

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    8 years ago

    Gma Goldie: thank you for your comments about trigger point therapy.The hub was about self help products to use at home. There are some amazing therapists but it can be expensive if used as often as needed.

  • GmaGoldie profile image

    Kelly Kline Burnett 

    8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

    Unless you have had this before it is hard to imagine. My husband and I both had pressure point therapy - amazing results. I prefer my hot tub and IF I keep up my exercise plan and my hot tub I find I have no need but the pain when it strikes is real and this therapy really works. Finding an expert personal trainer who is knowledgeable and experienced in this is hard. Vince in Green Bay is amazing and flies all over the world and has many star sports figures for clients. Feel free to contact me IF interested. He is expensive but good.

    Great article - best advice.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    8 years ago

    Christine P Ann: i used to press against a doorknob before i learned about this. The knots need to be released for pain relief. Thanks for commenting.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    8 years ago

    heart4theheart; knots and pressure points are connected. The connective muscle tissue can transfer the pain from a knot i believe. many times the knot i work on will relieve pain elsewhere. its an interesting idea and so simple to try.

    thanks for reading.

  • Christine P Ann profile image

    Christine P Ann 

    8 years ago from Australia

    What an interesting hub. I suffer from back pain and have used a hard tennis ball against a wall to try to ease the knot pain but these products sound just the thing. Thanks for the informative hub :)

  • heart4theword profile image


    8 years ago from hub

    My mom has one of these Thera Cane's...it is helpful for her. Appreciated the videos, watched one that was insightful for understanding more about how useful this cane is. My experience has been that not many LMT's or Chiropractor's really know how to find knot's and get rid of them properly. I believe the pressure points are a different issue than knots? Correct me if I am wrong? Thanks for the read!


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