In my studies and practice, I have come across many horses (and people) that live in pain and lameness because a diagnosis is never reached. This pain, or myofascial pain syndrome, is caused by trigger points that refer pain to other areas.
It is important to treat trigger points as soon as possible so that the syndrome doesn’t turn into chronic pain. The longer pain is present, the more muscles become involved in a chain reaction of dysfunction. One muscle might hurt and tighten and form trigger points, then those trigger points refer new pain somewhere else, and so on and so on…
How many horses do you know who have become pasture ornaments or brood mares because their mysterious lameness kept returning? The sooner trigger points are released, the simpler recovery will be. Muscles with trigger point pain can be returned to normal and healthy function. Eventually atrophied muscles can be strengthened and range of motion restored.
If a massage is done in the wrong place, it might feel good, but do you or your animal no good at all. The place that needs to be massaged is usually not where the pain is felt. Referred pain, also known as reflective pain, is pain that is not felt at the source of the problem. A well known example of this is the pain of a heart attack: pain is often felt in the arm, shoulder, or neck, rather than the heart, where the actual problem is.
I was recently working on trigger points in my own right leg (where I had 4 surgeries 20 years ago) and felt a shooting pain up to my shoulder blade on the same side.
The beauty of Stress Point and Trigger Point massage is that it can pinpoint the source of the pain and literally put a finger on the problem!