Trigger points and acupuncture points for pain: correlations and implications

Pain. 1977 Feb;3(1):3-23. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(77)90032-X.


Trigger points associated with myofascial and visceral pains often lie within the areas of referred pain but many are located at a distance from them. Furthermore, brief, intense stimulation of trigger points frequently produces prolonged relief of pain. These properties of trigger points--their widespread distribution and the pain relief produced by stimulating them--resemble those of acupuncture points for the relief of pain. The purpose of this study was to determine the correlation between trigger points and acupuncture points for pain on the basis of two criteria: spatial distribution and the associated pain pattern. A remarkably high degree (71%) of correspondence was found. This close correlation suggests that trigger points and acupuncture points for pain, though discovered independently and labeled differently, represent the same phenomenon and can be explained in terms of the same underlying neural mechanisms. The mechanisms that play a role in the genesis of trigger points and possible underlying neural processes are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Back / innervation
  • Extremities / innervation
  • Female
  • Head / innervation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck / innervation
  • Neural Pathways
  • Pain*
  • Palliative Care
  • Thorax / innervation