Painful Point

Neck pain is a common problem, often centred on active ‘trigger points’ in the upper trapezius muscle.
Compression therapy – applying firm and consistent thumb pressure – can reduce the sensitivity of a trigger point after initially causing discomfort. But how does it work?
Previous research has revealed that spinal manipulation could increase activity in the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Edward Hutton, who won this year’s student poster award at Physiotherapy UK, studied 45 Coventry University physiotherapy students to investigate whether compression therapy had similar effects.
The participants, who all had latent trigger points, were randomly divided into three groups. The intervention group received compression therapy, the placebo group received light touch to the same point and the control group had no treatment.
Skin conductance tests on the participants’ fingers revealed that SNS activity in the intervention group had increased by 92.9 per cent, compared with just 7.8 per cent in the placebo group and 3.2 per cent among the controls.
‘Results contribute to the body of evidence which suggests that manual therapy techniques achieve positive treatment outcomes by activation of the SNS,’ the researchers report.  
An investigation into the effects of compression therapy on latent Upper Fibres of Trapezius trigger points on peripheral sympathetic nervous system activity in the upper limb.
Courtsey - Edward Hutton and Jo Perry, CSP

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