Trigger versus Acupuncture Points

There has been some confusion about the nature of trigger points.  More than a few have jumped to the false conclusion that these points are actually acupuncture points. This is primarily due to the fact that the treatment recommended for trigger points often includes acupuncture needle stimulations. However trigger points and acupuncture points are entirely different. 

To begin with, trigger points are a physical lesion adequately characterized by the tenets of the material paradigm.  Each point is an independent localized response to some type of physical trauma. The effects of a treatment are limited in scope to the specific tissues harboring the point.  There are established material mechanisms involved in the explanation of the treatment effects: feedback, desensitizing, endorphins etc.

Acupuncture points are defined and described by the tenets of the subtle energy paradigm.  They are entangled in an all inclusive immaterial comprehensive network of relationships (meridians).  According to the classic theory (TCM) treatments are designed to adjust the patient’s subtle energy field (Chi) which indirectly resolves a multitude of separately located problems.  Consequently the effects of acupuncture point stimulations are not limited to the immediate area surrounding the point.

Bastardized Western versions however often use localized point stimulations to directly address specific medical conditions (symptoms), emulating the approach of trigger point therapy.  In the process most clinicians over look the fact that there are material mechanisms obviously involved in this type of approach that are similar if not identical to those in trigger point therapy.  Consequently we see in practice that the desired clinical effect is often achieved only by intensifying the physical stimulation; i.e. more is better.  

In the classic TCM approach positive results are obtained by intentionally prescribing an appropriate (balancing) point pattern, regardless of any type of physical stimulation employed or its intensity.  

In other words trigger point and localized acupuncture treatments fix/cure specific localized medical conditions with established material mechanisms (Chemical & neurologic)  while classic acupuncture treatments balance the subtle energy field which often facilitates a profound and comprehensive healing response.