What Is A Trigger Point?

Trigger Points

Trigger points are tight bands of muscle, and inflammation of the tissue around those bands. They feel like “knots” in the muscle. Trigger points can cause severe pain, muscle stiffness, and limited range-of-motion. In addition, the pain from trigger points can radiate to surrounding areas. This is called referred pain and the most common pathways are shown in this image.

Trigger points develop as a result of many causes. Some of the more common are described below:

  • Simple daily activities such as repetitive movements and poor posture
  • Trauma such as car accidents and sports injuries
  • Underlying painful conditions such as disc herniations, spinal arthritis, and sciatica, which can lead to muscle tension and spasms
  • Various pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia

How do we treat trigger points?

The best treatment for trigger points is a combination of therapeutic massage and trigger point manipulation. Therapeutic massage techniques (myofascial release) first help the muscles relax and alleviate spasms. This allows the muscle to be more receptive to the second step, trigger point manipulation. There are various techniques to manipulate trigger points which then forces the bands of muscle to relax. This subsequently allows the inflammation to resolve. Treatment using these techniques can alleviates all the symptoms of those trigger points. Trigger point manipulation can be painful and therefore we “numb” the bands of muscle beforehand with a local anesthetic. This makes the trigger point treatment much more comfortable and successful. The entire session takes about an hour

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