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Trigger Point Therapy for Low Back Pain: A Self-treatment Workbook (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook), by Sharon Sauer, CMTPT, LMT and Mary Biancalana, MS, CMTPT, LMT, 2009, ISBN: 1572245638.   

As the title implies, this book is intended for individuals who suffer from low back pain and who would like to learn more about what is causing their pain and find out what they could do to alleviate some of the pain. The type of pain discussed in this book is muscle pain, more specifically, pain coming from the tightening of the myofascia—the thin, fibrous tissue that encloses layers of muscles and supports the musculature of the body. Changes within this tissue present as “trigger points” which are painful knots that develop in the muscle fiber and cause constriction of nerves and blood vessels and this in turn, causes pain and referred pain.

Myofascial trigger point therapy is a type of bodywork done by medical practitioners and/or trained therapists using manual and physical techniques to find (through palpation) and reduce these knots and myofascial constriction, but considerable relief can be also achieved at home though various self-applied methods. Therefore, this book contains what two knowledgeable therapists in this field and members of the International Myopain Society, Sharon Sauer and Mary Biancalana, want to share with readers.

The authors write from personal and professional experience and are very careful and sensible in how they communicate with readers. Their first recommendation is that anyone with low back pain be thoroughly evaluated by a primary care physician and/or specialist for all possible causes. Patients are also urged to get their doctors’ approval before participating in any of the home exercises and/or seeking therapy from licensed practitioners using this discipline.

This is a very user-friendly book, which is not overly long (as it concentrates only on muscle groups involved in lower back muscle pain), and in which the information is conveniently broken down into 17 small chapters. Once the basics are covered, a chapter is devoted to each of the ten specific muscle groups associated with low back and/or buttock pain, as well as trigger points that are activated and causing pain.

Symptoms and patterns of muscle pain/referred pain for each group are well explained and in many cases, accompanied by illustrations and diagrams. One chapter, in particular, seems very helpful because it provides a reference chart listing general problems and the muscle groups associated with these, including a notation as to which chapter discusses this particular muscle group.

Treatment recommendations, within each chapter for each muscle group, consist mainly of helpful stretches, ways to apply pressure against painful areas and promote release of knots, range of motion exercises with easy to follow diagrams, and instructions for how to use self-care tools and other therapies (i.e., backnobber, therapy balls, pillows, use of heat, etc.).

This book is effective in enlightening readers about myofascial pain and trigger point therapy. As mentioned before, content is limited to the lower back muscle groups.  It is important to note this book solely concentrates on trigger point therapy and this type of pain and it does not include any information on fibromyalgia in particular. We do not think this is a problem because the at-home techniques and tips could be beneficial and this type of intervention has been included in recent fibromyalgia publications.