This topic has been coming up again and again! I’ll clear this up for anyone who would like to know, in my own words which I find easy to understand.
Motor Point: the anatomical junction of a motor nerve into a muscle belly. Functions to contract and relax the muscle. When hit with a needle, it tricks the golgi tendon apparatus into thinking the muscle has been over loaded, causing the muscle to contract and then fully relax.
Trigger point: a muscle knot of fibrous adhesions within the muscle and fascial layers which occurs due to repetitive movement patterns or injury. May refer pain to other areas of the body when pressed on. When hit with a needle, there may be a muscle twitch response which will release the fibrous adhesions, and thus alleviate the pain referral pattern.
Acupuncture point: a concentrated neuro-vascular junction. When hit with a needle, specific neurotransmitters are released throughout the brain to induce heightened homeostatic function. This causes a cascade of physiological functions which, depending on the points you choose, may target anything from pain, hormonal imbalances, and anxiety, to stress, digestive issues, and many more. This is why we can treat internal medicine imbalances with acupuncture too.
Where it gets interesting is that some of the traditional acupuncture points will lie directly on or right beside many motor points, and back in the day (like, 4000 years ago) trigger points were called “ahshi” which translates as “pain point” and used in every day treatments.
What a lot of people don’t know is that acupuncturists learn the location and needling technique for all 3 categories
My favourite part of this story is that if, for example, you were having upper trap and neck tension due to stress and anxiety..we could use the motor points to relax the trap, needle any surrounding trigger points that may be contributing to the pain, and then add in specific acupuncture points to reduce the anxiety and stress. * ACUPUNCTURE ROCKS! *