A New Life

A New Life

This is an excerpt from

The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook (2nd edition)

by Clair Davies

Chapter 1

A New Life

I was sixty years old when, at the height of my success in a business I’d pursued for almost four decades, I decided to dump it all and start at the bottom in a completely new field.

Piano rebuilding had been my trade and it had been a good one. My income had exceeded one hundred thousand dollars in some years; as a massage therapist, I knew I’d be lucky to make twenty thousand. The old life was full of rewards, not the least of which was intense satisfaction in the work itself, great prestige in my community, and unquestioned status among my peers. The new life would be full of anxieties and uncertainties, with little likelihood of ever equaling the success I’d enjoyed in the old one. What was my motive for making such a wrenching change?

In a word, the motive was pain. Through a difficult personal struggle with pain, I believed I had learned something worth sharing with the world. I believed I’d discovered something new in the treatment of pain that could change lives as it had changed mine. I couldn’t be content with keeping it to myself.

You wouldn’t be reading this book if you weren’t in the midst of your own unresolved struggle with pain—or if you weren’t searching for a better way to help those who hurt. I hope my story will show you what can be done when there seems to be no help.

Vladimir Horowitz’s piano tuner taught me to tune pianos. It was 1960 and I was an apprentice at Steinway & Sons in New York. It was a great start. After I left Steinway, I had my own business in New York for several years, tuning in homes, churches, concert halls, recording studios, and theaters all over town. New York was cheap, a lot of really famous people knew my name, I rode a motorcycle, I had girlfriends—life was good.

In the late sixties, I moved to Kentucky, seeking cleaner air and a place to park my new car. I settled down, got married, and started raising two spunky daughters. In succeeding years, I rebuilt and refinished hundreds of grand pianos and tuned tens of thousands of pianos of all kinds. The business was full of rewards for a restless, creative spirit: I invented dozens of new tools for the piano trade, and through the many articles I wrote for the Piano Technicians Journal, piano tuners all over the world became acquainted with my tools, my methods, my name. I gained a reputation as someone who was good at finding simple solutions for difficult problems.

But during my time in the piano business I had a lot of trouble with pain—neck pain, back pain, every kind of pain you’d expect to get from hard physical work. As time went by, I grew increasingly concerned about how long I could continue. I had gradually become aware that the happiness and the very livelihood of virtually every piano technician I’d ever known had been threatened at one time or another by work-related pain. I remembered one of my teachers at Steinway had once been so crippled by a bad shoulder that he could hardly do his work.

When I eventually came down with a bad shoulder of my own, I had to face the fact that there really weren’t any good solutions for pain. Basically, you popped a pill and tried to live through it. I discovered that the worst thing about pain was that doctors and others who were supposed to help didn’t really help; many almost seemed to be faking an understanding. And they all charged an arm and a leg whether they helped you or not. The situation made me so mad and desperate that I made up my mind to fix my shoulder myself, if there was any possible way.

Before I was done, I had not only gotten rid of my shoulder problem, but I had retired from my work with pianos and had graduated from massage school. Instead of tuning pianos I was now tuning people. I had discovered the most important work of my life.

Nobody Understood Shoulders

Ironically, my life-changing crisis with pain wasn’t caused directly by piano work—though I’m sure my job set me up for it. The trouble began one January morning when I came in from shoveling snow in my driveway with an oppressive little pain in my shoulder. As I went on with my shop work that day and in the days that followed, I favored the shoulder more and more. Everything I did irritated my condition—whatever that condition was. Before long, I could hardly raise my arm. Soon, I couldn’t pick up my grandson, reach across to get my seat belt, or crawl under a grand piano to do a repair without excruciating pain. It got so bad that a sudden move would give me a jolt of pain that felt like an electric shock, doubling me over, grimacing and breathless, for several minutes. I couldn’t sleep. I’d get up in the night seeking relief with ice rubs and hot showers, but nothing I did had any lasting effect. The ice would dull the pain long enough to let me get back to sleep, but in the morning the pain was back in full force.

Some years earlier, I had gone to a massage therapist for a back spasm. I had gone as a last resort, not really hoping for or expecting much. But she fixed me, and then went on to fix the chronic pain I had in my arms and hands. I couldn’t have been more pleased—or surprised. I had barely been aware that massage therapy existed, let alone having any notion that it actually worked. I had figured the pain in my arms and hands was just the inevitable and all-too-precipitous decline of old age. But in only three sessions, my massage therapist succeeded in ridding me of an affliction that had possessed me for as long as I could remember. Unfortunately, I was at a loss with the new shoulder problem. This wondrous woman had moved away and I had no choice but to try to find someone else with a similar gift for healing. It was a fruitless search. Variations on the theme of “exercise and stretch” were all I heard, despite my protests that stretching made my pain worse, not better. At one point, I realized that the physical therapist who was treating me for my frozen shoulder was herself secretly suffering from exactly the same affliction! She couldn’t fix herself and she couldn’t fix me, but she expected payment just the same.

I had a sense that nobody really understood shoulders. I tried a series of massage therapists, looking for the grand results I’d had before, but they all just seemed to tinker with my shoulder problem. From previous experience, I had no faith in chiropractic for this problem. I also had no reason to think doctors would offer me anything but painkillers or, worse, surgery. You also hear about doctors forcibly manipulating frozen shoulders. Not in this lifetime, I thought; thanks just the same.

In the midst of my frustrating search for effective treatment, I decided to go to the annual convention of the Piano Technicians Guild. There were classes all week on various aspects of piano technology, and I had always felt revitalized by the dynamic exchange of ideas there. I was determined to go despite my disability and was hoping a break from work would help. But sitting all day in classes holding my arm defensively and motionless at my side only seemed to aggravate the problem. I rubbed at my shoulder continuously; I squeezed it; I tried to relax it; I tentatively and cautiously flexed it. The only result was an ache that rose in intensity throughout the week. My every thought was of pain.

On the last night, the pain was so unremitting that not even the ice treatments had any effect. I lay in bed in my hotel room at two o’clock in the morning and cried like a baby. Evidently, all I could hope for was to somehow outlive the problem. I had heard that it took about a year for a shoulder to heal itself—if it did heal itself.

Lying there in my misery, I happened to remember a pair of medical books I had seen years earlier on the desk of that first massage therapist I’d liked so much. She told me she referred to those books constantly, and she had been the only person who really seemed to know what she was doing in regard to pain. I realized I was going to have to find a way to take care of this problem myself and those medical books might at least be a place to start. It was a spark of hope.

A New Technology

When I got home from the convention, I ordered the books: volumes 1 and 2 of Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, by Janet Travell and David Simons. The price of medical books was a shock and I bridled a bit, but I finally had to ask myself: What is this knowledge worth? My shoulder answered the question for me.

When the books came, I entered a world I hadn’t known existed. As soon as I began to read, the mystery of my shoulder problem began to clear. In The Trigger Point Manual, I found hundreds of beautifully executed illustrations of the muscles of the body. They showed the likely trigger points for every muscle and the patterns of pain they predictably touched off.

I found that, although the physiology of a trigger point was extremely complex, a trigger point for practical purposes could be viewed as what most people call a “knot”: a wad of muscle fibers staying in a hard contraction, never relaxing. A trigger point in a muscle could be actively painful or it could manifest no pain at all unless touched. More often, though, it would sneakily send its pain somewhere else. I gathered that much of my pain, perhaps all of it, was probably this mysterious displaced pain, this referred pain. I had never been able to figure out why all the rubbing I had been doing had never done any good. It was a mistake to assume the problem was at the place that hurt!

The pain in the front of my shoulder was actually coming from behind it, from trigger points in the infraspinatus, a muscle that covered part of the outside of my shoulder blade. The deep aching behind my shoulder was coming from trigger points in the subscapularis, a muscle on the underside of my shoulder blade, sandwiched between the shoulder blade and the ribs. The unrelenting pain at the inner edge of my shoulder blade was being sent by trigger points in the scalene muscles, in the front and sides of my neck. It was no wonder nobody knew what to do for me!

It was clear to me that all I had was a massive number of trigger points in the muscles in my shoulder—trigger points in over twenty muscles, as it turned out. That first massage therapist, the one I liked so much, had treated me very successfully with ordinary massage techniques and I understood now that it was trigger points she was dealing with. Perhaps I could deal with the trigger points myself using massage. I began to think that this might be a job for someone with a technician’s mentality—maybe someone who was smart enough to take on the complexities of a grand piano would be well equipped to fix trigger points.

Driven by my misery and by my excitement about these new ideas, I studied Travell and Simons night and day. I found that my trigger points would yield under the touch of my own hands if I persisted. After only about a month of assiduously applying what I was learning chapter by chapter, I had succeeded in fixing my shoulder . . . my own shoulder! I was astounded. The pain was gone. I could raise my arm. I could sleep through the night. This stuff really worked!

Given the innately optimistic cast of my mind, I immediately took a larger view. I saw that I had in my hands the tools to take effective care of myself, at least when it came to any kind of myofascial pain. I supposed that I might be able to treat any trigger point I could reach and extinguish virtually any pain I might have. I could develop a complete system, a kind of new technology, and maybe other people would be helped by it.

Mechanical Ingenuity

Travell and Simons had done a wonderful thing in giving the science of myofascial pain to the medical community. The illustrations by Barbara Cummings brilliantly clarified every aspect of the subject. Without these dedicated people, the science of trigger points and referred pain would still be an impossible jumble, largely unknown and inaccessible.

Unfortunately, Travell and Simons’s two main methods for deactivating trigger points weren’t oriented toward self-treatment. They were designed specifically for the doctor’s office or the physical therapy clinic: a doctor could inject trigger points with procaine, a local anesthetic; and a physical therapist could presumably stretch trigger points out of existence. It bothered me, however, that the physical therapy protocol, which Travell and Simons called their “workhorse” method, involved the muscle stretching that I had found so ineffective and even dangerous, in that it had made my shoulder problem dramatically worse. To be sure, Travell and Simons had made stretching safer by using a refrigerant spray on the skin. “Distracting” the nervous system with the spray meant the underlying muscles were less likely to tighten up in defense. Nevertheless, safe or not, I felt that the spray and stretch method was too elaborate to be practical for self-treatment, and that it would be impossible to use on areas that were hard to reach.

In addition, trying to get at the relatively small trigger points by stretching whole groups of recalcitrant muscles seemed unnecessarily indirect and inefficient. The problem was not with the generalized tension in the muscle, but rather with the trigger point, a very specific, circumscribed place within the muscle. The trigger point’s knotted up muscle fibers obviously needed to relax and let go, but why not go straight to the trouble spot and deal with it directly? Massage seemed to me the natural approach, and it obviously worked with trigger points—that good massage therapist had proven that much to me.

I wanted to find simple ways to use massage for self-treatment. I wanted to develop a comprehensive method for dealing with trigger points anywhere in the body. I wanted something that a regular person like me could immediately understand and use. I was sure all this could be done.

Among the old-time piano men at Steinway, the highest compliment was to be called “a good mechanic.” A good mechanic cared about the details and he stuck with the job until he got it right; he could find the solution to a problem even if it wasn’t in the book. My life up to that point had been built around being a good mechanic, and being able to find the simple solution. That’s certainly what I had to do in devising ways to self-treat trigger points. For the purposes of treating trigger points, I felt the body was best thought of as a machine, a mechanical system of levers, fulcrums, and forces, especially in regard to the bones and muscles. I could understand such a system. A lifetime of working with my hands was about to begin to pay off in a new and unexpected way.

My first challenge was to learn the exact location of each muscle, to visualize how it attached to the bones, and to understand the job the muscle did. Finding the precise massage technique that a trigger point would respond to was where the art would come in. The difficulty here was in figuring out how to reach unreachable places and get effective leverage in awkward positions without hurting my hands and fingers, which were already being overused in the course of an ordinary workday.

The project became an obsession. I studied Travell and Simons the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. I studied in the parking lot at McDonald’s. Using my own body as the laboratory, I discovered something new every day. I found trigger points everywhere and became aware of pain that I didn’t know I had. I only wanted to talk about trigger points and often greeted family members excitedly with the exclamation, “I found another one! I found another one!” Over a period of three years, I learned how to find and deactivate trigger points in 120 pairs of muscles, which enabled me to cope with every trigger point that Travell and Simons dealt with in their books except those inside the pelvis

A World of Pain

The misdiagnosis of pain is the most important issue taken up by Travell and Simons. Referred pain from trigger points mimics the symptoms of a very long list of common maladies; but physicians, in weighing all the possible causes for a given condition, have rarely even conceived of there being a myofascial source. The study of trigger points has not historically been a part of medical education. Travell and Simons hold that most of common everyday pain is caused by myofascial trigger points and that ignorance of that basic concept could inevitably lead to false diagnoses and the ultimate failure to deal effectively with pain (Travell and Simons 1999, 12–14).

From the beginning, I had a sense that for some reason the great work of Janet Travell and David Simons had fallen into a deep pit and was in danger of being buried and forgotten. Surely by now Travell’s discoveries about pain should have swept the country and changed the world of health care. The first volume of The Trigger Point Manual had been published in 1983, but I couldn’t find anything about trigger points in the public library. None of the popular family medical guides even mentioned trigger points. Nothing truly informative was to be found in bookstores. Doctors were still using drugs as the primary treatment for pain. Many were actively hostile to the concept of trigger points, discounting the idea as just more bogus medicine, something purely imaginary.

Only massage therapists seemed to be informed about trigger points and referred pain, and only exceptional individuals among them (in my own experience at least) were treating trigger points effectively. What’s more, the burgeoning variety of unproven modalities offered by massage therapists gave the profession such an aura of flakiness that the elegant science of myofascial pain treatment got unfairly confused with treatments whose results could easily be attributed to the placebo effect. With such an identity, how could the medical profession or the public ever consider massage a legitimate therapy for pain?

Clearly, there was a world of pain out there in need of the simple and genuine solutions I felt I had in hand. I despaired of doctors ever listening to me about trigger point therapy. Taking the facts about myofascial pain directly to the public seemed the more logical tack. I began to think about leaving the piano business behind. There was something more important for me to do.

The first thing I wanted to do was to write about the self-treatment of pain for all my ailing friends in the Piano Technicians Guild. Previous articles in the Piano Technicians Journal had given me a following. I guessed that my ideas about pain had a better chance of publication in this journal than almost anywhere else.

I also conceived of giving seminars and workshops about the self-treatment of pain, and I thought that getting a massage school diploma might give me more credibility. But I had an even better motive for going to massage school. My daughter Amber had had chronic back pain ever since lifting a heavy chair during a scene change while she was working in summer theater. Employing my new knowledge about trigger points, I’d been trying to give her massage, but I just wasn’t very good. I didn’t know the time-tested manual techniques used by massage therapists. It would be worth learning to do massage right, if only to help my daughter; and anything I learned that benefited my method of self-treatment would be a plus.

I applied to the biggest massage school I could find, one with a busy, well-managed student clinic where I could get a great deal of experience in the shortest time possible. At that moment, I couldn’t imagine becoming a professional therapist, but I definitely wanted the skills. With the help of my son-in-law, who I had trained to take over my piano business, I plowed through a backlog of half a dozen rebuilding jobs. We cleared my calendar in time for me to start a six-month clinical course at the Utah College of Massage Therapy.

Massage School

There were forty-nine of us in the class: thirty-six women and thirteen men. We were a greatly varied group of all backgrounds, from many states and foreign countries, and ranging in age from seventeen to sixty. It soon became apparent that, although I was the oldest in the class (and possibly prejudged by most of the others to be a creaking fuddy-duddy), I was the only one who could claim to be free of pain. All the others—young and old, male and female—had some kind of enduring problem with pain. I found that it was almost a cliché that people go to massage school because they have chronic pain and they’re looking for the solution they haven’t found elsewhere.

It seemed ironic to me that I arrived in Utah having read both volumes of Travell and Simons’s Trigger Point Manual and having gone a long way toward developing my method of self-healing, yet I couldn’t get anyone to listen. I had just left a business where my word was taken as gospel. People were eager to hear what I had to say about pianos. In the role of student, my accustomed authority was reduced to nil. Nobody wanted to hear what I knew about trigger points. I could only stand and watch as a fellow student would have a pain crisis, usually bad neck pain or a back spasm, and run off to a chiropractor or to the emergency room. I kept offering help and being turned down.

It was even harder to approach the instructors about do-it-yourself massage, but the anatomy teacher apparently felt less threatened than the others. He was a big, self-confident guy with a great sense of humor, who didn’t fear losing his authority with the students. During a break one day, he heard me talking to a classmate about trigger points and asked if I knew how to fix pain. He said he often had pain that shot diagonally across one side of his chest. He was having it again just that morning. It wasn’t his heart, he said; he’d had it checked. While he explained, I reached up and began pressing on his neck just above his collarbone. He suddenly stopped talking and winced, then exclaimed, “Hey, that’s it! That’s my pain! How did you do that?” A trigger point in a scalene muscle was causing the pain in his chest. I showed him how to work the trigger point himself and he told me later that the pain had gone away and hadn’t come back.

I couldn’t get over it. This man was a registered nurse and a gifted teacher of anatomy who knew his muscles but didn’t know about his own trigger points. He was a product of the same system that turns out physicians with the same astounding gap in their knowledge.

After my classmates saw me go hands on with our anatomy teacher’s trigger points, they began letting me show them some of my tricks. I showed one student how to kill her sinus pain by working on her jaw muscles, another how to stop his feet from hurting by massaging his calves, and another how to get rid of her dizzy spells with attention to trigger points in the front of her neck. Several eventually came to me for back pain of various kinds. Near the end of the course, I got to show the whole class my techniques for getting rid of arm and hand pain, something we all experienced working in the clinic. Several classes of budding massage therapists worked in the weekend clinic where it was not unusual for us to give twelve hundred massages on a Saturday and Sunday.

I saw the same pain patterns in the clinic that I had seen with my fellow students: lots of back trouble, plus a broad selection of every other kind of pain you could think of. I saw pain in every part of the body and every joint: shoulders, elbows, wrists, knuckles, hips, knees, and ankles. Typically, the client had already been the rounds of doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and so on, looking for the magician in the white coat. They’d tried yoga, magnets, pain diets, herbal therapies, and acupuncture. Some had had their problem for ten years and more. Many guessed they were just getting arthritis and so were habitually popping pills. They felt older than their years, handicapped by pain. They felt their careers in danger. Depression due to constant pain was a prevailing theme.

It was exasperating to hear the same stories repeatedly, to know both how simple their problems were and just what to do for them, and to know many clients were coming for massage only as a last resort. In my view, massage was the only thing that worked for these kinds of pain, and should be the first thing tried, not the last. I consistently found trigger points to be the cause of my clients’ problems, and clients nearly always got off my table feeling better. Many left my booth feeling they’d finally found something that worked. I felt more and more that I also had found something that worked. I liked giving massage a great deal—I was surprised at how much. I asked for extra shifts and accumulated almost twice as many hours as were required.

Until I was working regularly in the clinic, I hadn’t seen that giving massage to others was a way of taking care of myself. I’d only been thinking of getting a diploma from a good school so I would have a bit of credibility when I went on to teach self-massage. Unexpectedly, I got as much from the massages as my clients did, maybe more. I felt myself becoming kinder and more empathic. Knowing how to take care of my own pain had made me more fit for taking care of others, which made me more fit for taking care of myself. My six months at the Utah College of Massage Therapy was transformational. I regretted I hadn’t done it sooner.

Recurrent Themes

While in massage school, I finished writing my series of eight articles on self-applied trigger point massage for the Piano Technicians Journal. Publication began two months after I graduated. When the first article appeared, desperate piano tuners began calling me for advice from all over the United States and Canada. They didn’t want to wait until the article on their particular problem came out. Many were on the verge of quitting piano work because of chronic pain. Some had been in pain for as long as twenty years, repeatedly going the rounds of the health care community just like I had, with the same frustrating results.

One tuner from New England had been afflicted with severe recurrent pain in both knees since climbing Mount Katahdin, the highest point in Maine, twelve years earlier. The pain had started as he descended the mountain and his friends had had to carry him most of the way to the bottom. Now he couldn’t even go out and mow his lawn without being crippled for days by the effort. Working with me over the phone, he was able to find and massage the horribly painful trigger points in his thigh muscles that were causing the pain in his knees. Before we hung up, the pain was gone. There had been no way for him to know that his trouble was not in his knees but in his thigh muscles, strained by the unaccustomed mountain climbing: his doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors hadn’t known. At the Piano Technicians Guild National Convention a couple of months later, he happily told me he’d continued working on his trigger points and hadn’t had any more trouble with his knees. I was as pleased as he was.

I was scheduled to give a workshop on the self-treatment of pain at that convention and was worried that nobody would come. From the number of sufferers who had called me on the phone, I should’ve known better. One hundred and ten people showed up, and it was standing room only in the modest-sized meeting room. I knew at least one thing about every person in the room before we even began: they all hurt.

Piano technicians are the most diverse, intelligent, creative group of people I’ve ever had the privilege to know, and at the same time they’re the most assertively independent. Some literally would rather die than ask for help. If I could tell them something about the treatment of pain that they could do themselves, they wanted to hear it. They were all in such need that no one so much as looked away throughout the whole program. I was very encouraged.

That was the first convention I went to not as a piano tuner, but as a massage therapist. I didn’t go to classes at all that week. I didn’t go to committee meetings. I didn’t even party at night. I had something better to do. I spent every day, from eight in the morning until ten at night, troubleshooting trigger points and giving massages, only leaving my room to get a quick meal. They weren’t all piano tuners who came to me; spouses needed help too. Although there were some recurrent themes, like shoulder pain, they brought me all kinds of problems—back pain, neck pain, headaches, numb hands—just like in the massage school clinic. People at the convention had come from all over North America, even from several foreign countries. No matter where these people lived, they all had the same story: they’d had trouble getting effective treatment. Nobody seemed to know what caused their pain and nobody could help.

Back in Kentucky, as I began my private practice, again I saw all the by now familiar patterns. All the people who came for massage had already been to a physician or a pain clinic. Almost all had experimented with chiropractic. Many had been to the emergency room for their pain. Most had been through physical therapy. They had tried everything, including various forms of alternative medicine. Some had even tried massage but hadn’t been impressed. It had been “feel-good” massage: it had been relaxing but hadn’t put a dent in their pain.

Interestingly, almost all the people who came to me had some kind of back pain along with whatever other pain complaint they had. Their previous treatments for back pain had always focused on the spine. I heard about injections of papaya or cortisone. People had usually been told they had arthritis or bad disks, or that their cartilage had been worn away. They’d been shown X-rays that purported to prove it. One woman was on her doctor’s schedule to have her vertebrae fused. Some had already had surgery, and frequently had as much pain after surgery as before. Typically, the surgeon’s last word was always that he was sorry but he’d done all he could. Then he’d renew their prescription for painkillers and dump them off on a physical therapist. I heard these stories over and over again. And over and over, I found that trigger point therapy gave them the relief they’d been seeking for so long. Had trigger points been the problem in the first place? Arthritis? Bad disks? In Travell and Simons’s Trigger Point Manual, I had read that you can have herniated disks and arthritis of the spine and still find that myofascial trigger points are the primary cause of your back pain.

One client said her doctor confided sympathetically that he had back pain too. He wore magnets under his clothing just like she did. Many of my clients had tried magnets and were often a little embarrassed to say so. Yes, the magnets did seem to help, they said, but the pain always came back. It was the same with TENS units: when you took them off, you still had your problem. (A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation [TENS] unit gives you little shocks that interfere with pain signals, but has no effect on the cause of the pain.)

Nearly everyone I treated was on pain medication of some kind, although few had the illusion that painkillers were a real cure. People seem to know intuitively that throwing a cloak over the pain only keeps you from seeing the real problem. When you hide the problem, you never get the opportunity to address it. Looked at in this way, painkillers actually perpetuate pain. People want real solutions; they don’t want to dope the problem away.

Another common theme among the people who came to me was numbness and pain in the hands and fingers. I began to get the impression that the computer keyboard was crippling the country. I saw wrist braces of all kinds. A doctor had wanted to put one woman’s wrists in casts to heal her numb hands. While many clients feared they had carpal tunnel syndrome or had even been given the diagnosis, massage of trigger points in the forearms, shoulder, and neck always took the pain and numbness away. This outcome was usually a surprise to the client. It soon ceased to be a surprise to me. Good results were so consistent with “carpal tunnel” symptoms that I began to wonder whether true carpal tunnel syndrome really existed.

What did all this mean for me? I knew how to help myself and it was clear I could help other people, but what was the best use of my newfound skills? There was indeed a world of pain out there, but I’d started too late as a massage therapist to hope to help very many people one-on-one. At my age I wasn’t going to have a long career as a healer. What could I do for the world of pain with the time and energy I had left? It became increasingly clear that I had to write a book about trigger point therapy and get this information out to as many people as possible.

Casting a Wider Net

A doctor should have written this book. It should’ve been written by a bona fide, credentialed expert in a white coat with years and years of experience and scores of articles published in medical journals. If “M.D.” followed my name on the cover of this book, I wouldn’t have had to write this chapter. This chapter is meant to give you some reason to trust what I have to say about pain, some reason to suspend your disbelief long enough to give my methods a fair try. The best evidence of whether my method is a good one for you will come from your own personal experience with it. Trying it is the only way you can truly validate my claims about its success.

I don’t claim to be an authority on pain. Travell and Simons are the pain experts. In writing this book, my job has primarily been to put their vast knowledge into more understandable form and transmit it to you. Having figured out how to fix my own pain counts for something, though. Being a massage therapist counts too, because I’ve proven to myself and to my clients that I know how to fix pain for other people.

I thought you might be interested in my shoulder story. I thought you might be interested in how the wisdom of Janet Travell and David Simons got me through my difficulties and how they truly gave me a new life. From my success in defeating pain, I thought you might gain a smidgen of hope: my new life offering the possibility of a new life for you. My own hope is that this book will be a useful one. It’s you who will prove me right or wrong.