Acupuncture Trigger Points: All You Need To Know

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Acupuncture

What are acupuncture trigger points? Let us help you learn all you need to know with Family Wellness Acupuncture.

These seemingly inconsequential spots are surprisingly mighty, holding the power to send waves of referred agony coursing through our bodies at the slightest touch or total relief with proper acupuncture treatment.

Together let’s gently peel back the layers.. and unearth how subtle needlework can lead to profound transformations!

Key Takeaways

  • Acupuncture effectively treats muscle knots and tension by inserting thin needles into trigger points, leading to improved blood flow and relaxation.
  • Muscle soreness after an acupuncture session is common; rest, ice application, and hydration can help reduce discomfort.
  • For personalized treatment of trigger points through acupuncture, individuals may consult with a specialist like Ryoko Takayama at Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine, CA.

Understanding Trigger Points and Their Significance

Woman receiving acupuncture on her trigger points

Acupuncture trigger points are localized areas of muscle contraction that can cause pain, limited range of motion, and muscle stiffness. They form due to overuse, injury, or stress on the muscles and can radiate pain to other parts of the body.

Our lead acupuncturist Ryoko Takayama at Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine CA specializes in treating trigger points through acupuncture.

Definition of acupuncture trigger points

Acupuncture trigger points are small, painful patches in our muscles that can cause big trouble. They make the muscle fibers bunch up and become very tight. This tightness cuts off blood flow to the area, which can lead to pain and stiffness.

Often called “muscle knots,” these spots can hurt even when you’re not moving. Acupuncture for trigger points aims to unwind these knots and restore comfort by letting energy move freely again.

We’ve learned that treating trigger points with acupuncture helps get rid of stiffness and discomfort in our bodies. With tiny needles, acupuncturists target these stubborn spots, releasing the tension built up inside.

The relief this brings is a real game-changer for those dealing with chronic pain or frequent muscle soreness!

How trigger points form

Understanding what trigger points are, we now turn to how they develop. Muscles sometimes tighten from acute injuries or overuse. This can lead to swelling, stiffness, and pain. Chronic injuries happen when our body’s natural ability to recover is not as strong as it should be.

Trigger points come into play when tight bands form in our muscles. These knots aren’t just painful where they are; they also cause pain in other parts of the body. For example, an athlete might get sidelined because a trigger point in their shoulder sends pain shooting down their arm.

This kind of problem happens more often than you’d think!

The relationship between trigger points and pain

Trigger points often lead to discomfort and can cause pain in areas far from where they’re located. These stubborn muscle knots create a unique type of soreness known as referred pain.

Imagine your muscles as a roadmap, with trigger points acting like roadblocks. The pain then travels along the pathways to different locations in your body, which sometimes confuses people about the source of their ache.

Acupuncture needles target these specific spots to help clear out the blockages.

In our bodies, myofascial trigger points are notorious for trapping nerves and tightening muscle fibers, which results in persistent pain. This kind of torment isn’t just restricted to one spot; it can radiate throughout our bodies causing headaches or low back pain among other issues.

Using acupuncture needles at precise acupuncture points helps release the pent-up tension within these knots, restoring blood flow and easing muscle contractions that contribute to ongoing discomfort.

Acupuncture as a Solution for Trigger Points

Acupuncture Needle Treatment Closeup

Acupuncture is an effective solution for releasing trigger points and relieving pain. At Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine CA, Ryoko Takayama specializes in using acupuncture to address trigger points and provide pain relief.

The effectiveness of acupuncture in releasing trigger points

Acupuncture, a highly effective technique for releasing trigger points in the body, is well-known for its ability to provide relief from muscular pain. This ancient practice involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body, stimulating the nervous system and promoting natural healing.

Through a combination of trigger point releases, distal acupuncture points along affected pathways, heat, and massage, acupuncture offers an exceptional way to relieve various types of pain effectively.

The process of acupuncture for trigger points targets not only the immediate site of discomfort but also addresses underlying imbalances within the body’s energy flow. As a result, many individuals experience significant improvement in muscle knots and tension after undergoing acupuncture sessions.

The process of acupuncture for trigger points

After understanding the effectiveness of acupuncture in releasing trigger points, it’s important to grasp the process involved in acupuncture for trigger points. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

  1. Identification of Trigger Points: Acupuncturists locate the specific trigger points causing pain or discomfort.
  2. Needle Insertion: Fine needles are skillfully inserted into these points, stimulating the nervous system.
  3. Muscle Response: The needles cause the muscles to react involuntarily, releasing tension and improving blood flow.
  4. Duration of Treatment: The needles remain in place for 10-30 minutes, depending on individual needs.
  5. Sensation Experience: Patients may feel a mild ache, heaviness, or tingling at the needle sites, which indicates the treatment is working effectively.
  6. Post-Treatment Care: After needle removal, a short rest period is advised to allow the body to fully benefit from the treatment.

Learn how we can help you with acupuncture trigger points at Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine, CA

Comparing Acupuncture and Dry Needling

While both acupuncture and dry needling involve the use of needles to relieve pain, the two techniques differ in their underlying principles and methods. Understanding these differences can help individuals make informed decisions about which approach may be most suitable for their needs.

For further reading on the topic, continue exploring our comprehensive guide on trigger points and acupuncture.

Differences and similarities

We understand that it can be a little confusing to differentiate between acupuncture and dry needling. Both techniques involve the use of needles and are often mentioned together when discussing treatment options for trigger points and muscle pain. Let’s lay out their differences and similarities in a clear, side-by-side comparison, so you can better grasp what each entails and how they can be beneficial in their own ways.

Aspect Acupuncture Dry Needling
Origins Traditional Chinese Medicine practice dating back thousands of years Modern Western medicine technique based on anatomy and neurophysiology
Philosophy Based on balancing the body’s Qi (energy flow) using meridians Focuses on stimulating specific myofascial trigger points to relieve pain and improve function
Technique Involves inserting needles into traditional Chinese acupuncture points, which may not always be at the site of pain Insertion of needles directly into muscular trigger points or knots
Additional Therapies May include cupping, gua sha, electroacupuncture, and Chinese herbs Typically only involves needle insertion without additional adjunct therapies
Purpose Aims to treat a wide range of conditions, balancing overall health Primarily targeted at relieving musculoskeletal pain and stiffness
Evidence Base Supported by traditional practice and growing clinical research Backed by contemporary research with a focus on physical therapy outcomes

We hope this table clarifies the distinctions and connections between acupuncture and dry needling. Both offer paths to healing and well-being, each through its own unique approach and methodology. As practitioners, we respect the power of both techniques to release trigger points and alleviate pain, helping our patients find the relief they seek.

The debate: acupuncture vs. dry needling

Acupuncture and dry needling spark a debate on safety and effectiveness for releasing trigger points. While acupuncture is proven effective in unblocking energy flow and relieving trigger points, deep needling poses potential risks like nerve damage if not performed by an experienced practitioner.

On the other hand, dry needling is associated with effectively releasing muscular trigger points to alleviate pain. However, the debate continues over their safety and long-term effectiveness for addressing trigger points.

Benefits of Acupuncture for Muscle Knots and Tension

When it comes to addressing muscle knots and tension, acupuncture can provide significant relief. By targeting trigger points with acupuncture, you can experience improved muscle relaxation and a reduction in referred pain.

Family Wellness Acupuncture, located in Irvine CA and led by Ryoko Takayama, specializes in using acupuncture to alleviate muscular discomfort.

Improved muscle relaxation

Acupuncture promotes improved muscle relaxation by releasing tension and enhancing blood flow. This allows for the easing of tight muscles, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing myofascial pain syndrome or muscular rheumatism.

Through this process, acupuncture effectively alleviates discomfort and supports better flexibility in affected areas, ultimately aiding in overall pain management.

Furthermore, the release of trigger points through acupuncture helps reduce sensitivity in specific muscles and aids in diminishing cramping or ischemic conditions. As a result, patients can experience notable relief from localized tenderness and achieve enhanced comfort and mobility.

Reduction in referred pain

Acupuncture aids in releasing trigger points, leading to a reduction in referred pain experienced in other areas of the body. It effectively targets tight muscles and blockages associated with trigger points, thereby alleviating the pain radiating from these muscle knots.

By balancing the body’s energy through acupuncture, not only are trigger points addressed, but also their resulting referred pains are minimized, offering comprehensive relief from muscle-related discomforts.

For more information on how acupuncture can reduce referred pain through addressing trigger points and improve overall well-being, visit our website at

What to Expect in an Acupuncture Session for Trigger Points

In an acupuncture session for trigger points, we can expect the following:

  1. A comprehensive assessment of your trigger points and areas of pain to determine the most effective treatment plan.
  2. The acupuncturist will strategically place thin needles into specific trigger points to release tension, improve circulation, and promote healing.
  3. The procedure may involve additional techniques such as cupping, gua sha, or electroacupuncture to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment.
  4. You might experience a mild sensation or tingling at the insertion points, but it should not be painful.
  5. After the session, you may feel relaxed and experience immediate relief in the treated areas, though individual responses may vary.
  6. It’s important to follow any post-session care instructions provided by your acupuncturist for optimal recovery and long-term benefits.

Post-Acupuncture Care and Maintenance

After your acupuncture session, it’s important to take care of yourself and follow any specific instructions given by your acupuncturist. This will help ensure that you continue to experience the benefits of treatment and maintain overall wellness.

To learn more about post-acupuncture care and maintenance, read on for valuable tips from Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine CA, led by Ryoko Takayama.

What to do if you’re sore after acupuncture

If you’re sore after acupuncture, follow these tips:

  1. Rest the treated area and avoid strenuous activities for 24-48 hours.
  2. Apply ice to reduce inflammation and soothe the soreness.
  3. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and aid in flushing out toxins released during treatment.


Ready to release those muscle knots and experience relief from trigger point pain? Connect with us today at (949) 836-2857, visit, or email

Don’t wait to begin your journey toward better health today! Choosing us means we will help you find the healthy results you want. Book your first appointment with us right now by phone at (949) 836-2857 or online at

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What exactly are acupuncture trigger points?

Acupuncture trigger points, or ashi points, are sensitive spots on your skin connected to the musculoskeletal system. They can become tender and may cause pain or other symptoms like numbness.

How do physical therapists use these points for treatments?

Physical therapists might press these points with their hands in manual therapy, or they use methods like dry-needling to relieve muscle tension and improve function.

Can acupuncture help with conditions like fibromyalgia?

Yes — healthcare professionals often treat myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) and fibromyalgia by targeting specific trigger points; this can ease widespread body discomfort.

Is there any risk of a collapsed lung during acupuncture?

It’s rare, but a collapsed lung is possible if needles affect the chest area too deeply—always go to a trained medical professional for such treatments.

Who discovered the idea of trigger point therapy?

Back in the 20th century, Dr. Janet Travell brought light to how treating painful parts of skeletal muscles—the so-called ‘trigger point’ areas—could help manage chronic pain issues.

Do traditional Chinese medicine practitioners view trigger points differently from Western doctors?

Indeed—they see them as areas where vital energy has been blocked according to traditional Chinese medical texts, whereas Western views rely more on muscular and nerve compression explanations.



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