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Please! Stop saying trigger points “don’t exist”

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

I’d like to ask all my fellow skeptics to please stop saying that the sore, aching spots we call trigger points “don’t exist.” This has become common in recent years. Try this instead:

“The clinical phenomenon of sore spots, popularly known as ‘trigger points,’ obviously does exist, but its nature is unclear.”

I know that second option is painfully detailed! So many words! But puh-lease consider tempering your trigger point skepticism with a little nuance. Literally no one doubts that humans suffer from sensitive, aching spots. (Not even John “Triggered by Trigger Points” Quintner thinks that.) The whole controversy is about their etiology, not their existence.

Please also remember that there’s an excellent chance that some people, perhaps even many people, have probably suffered from more and nastier “sore spots” than you can personally relate to. When you deny the “existence” of that phenomenon, people who do have those spots… they notice that denial.

Criticize the sloppy science. Roll your eyes at the overconfident claims made by trigger point therapists everywhere. By all means: do dismiss the dogma, do fight the hype. But please don’t deny the phenomenon; stop telling people that what they are suffering from isn’t actually a thing. Please.

See the index of all content about trigger points. (Whatever the 🤬 they are.)