Trigger Point Pain (TPP)

That title has nothing to do with Wild West shoot-outs! I was introduced to the bodily concepts of ‘Trigger Point Pain’ (TPP) at my local Council-run gymnasium. I enrolled there for a regular physical exercise regime to help me try to recover even a little of my former well-being. The instructor explained that TPP is a ‘tender spot in a muscle which can trigger pain, locally or sometimes unexpectedly, in a different part of our body’ and is a pain that can be inactive, latent or active. My funny old brain immediately transposed that concept, indeed that definition, to describe the ‘emotional’ triggers that cause me to experience the sadness and melancholy of losing my wife to Alzheimer’s. I observed, with only a little research, that the causes, recognition and management of TPP is incredibly like my current state of mind – I am convinced that TPP affects not just my body but explains totally how I feel.

For example, I read that the Trigger Point Pain (feeling) can:

  1. vary in frequency and intensity (mood swings)
  2. be delayed until after an event (delayed psychological reaction)
  3. localised or pervasive (momentary or forever)
  4. co-exist with other pain (worries and physical hurts)
  5. develop into a chronic state (just won’t go away)
  6. affect nearby muscles (other people in our lives)
  7. muscles may remain stretched long after an event (worries may persist or even recur)
  8. be exacerbated by prolonged sleeping in a fixed or contorted position (habitual)
  9. continue because of a poor posture (mind-set)
  10. may cause a chain reaction to other parts of the body (aches and pains)
  11. derive from over-use, or prolonged misuse, of a muscle (my brain!)

All those aspects are going to be prolonged or worsened, or at least affected by:

  1. weak muscles   (attitudes/mind)
  2. cold                    (lack of emotional support)
  3. drugs                  (including caffeine, nicotine or inappropriate medicines)
  4. stress & anxiety (real or imagined)
  5. relationships    (family and friends)
  6. financial stress (especially unexpected expenses)

I’m sure this analogy could be extended to dozens of other directly applicable examples, but you get my drift. For body or mind, or both, the remedies are similar! All the above symptoms and their possible responses and treatments are very individual; we are our own island, unique in every way and there’s no silver bullet or a master key to unlock relief. Remedies or an escape from our life troubles is always different for each of us!

I hate to admit it, but part of the remedy for me may well be to seek some ‘mental health’ help. That will require me to take a long hard honest look at my circumstances. Then try to be proactive in finding ways to remove or at least ameliorate my frequently felt depressed condition. I also know the power of prayer, and it is my somewhat irregular way to open-up to God, to seek spiritual help and healing which has sustained me thus far. My prayers also include my friends, whose ‘elder journey’ is also beset with personal and health problems, often more physically and emotionally far worse than mine………

Normal TPP therapy research says I should also consider: a long hot bath, a heat pad, or stretching! I interpret that, from a mental perspective, to include continuing the physical exercise routine but also to plan other diversionary tactics, like talking to friends and family, to read more, take a holiday, a new activity or a hobby, socialise more and join in more club or group activities. I find that easy to say, but my nature is to be more reclusive, and I resist. I miss the interactive loving company of Dorothy, and that is the core of my problem.

Recognising where I am on this journey, even writing about it, does help. And attending my physical exercise class is also helping me to see its relevance to my mental well-being. It is showing me a way to treat both kinds of ‘Trigger Point Pains’ but, like exercise and love, that requires dedication and perseverance!