Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger points are focused areas of hyper-irritability in muscles that, when compressed, are locally tender. They are commonly referred to as knots in the muscle because that’s exactly what they feel like.

Fig409BackMusclesTrPIf these trigger points are sufficiently sensitive, they may give rise to referred pain and tenderness, including headaches arising from muscular tightness in the neck and shoulder areas. These trigger points are present in everyone, and are most common in the shoulders, where most of us carry our stress. They may be present without causing any discomfort, but may become activated if a muscle remains in a shortened position for an extended period of time, such as when sleeping, or if the muscle in which they are found is repetitively strained by being held for extended periods of time in the same position, such as typing, or cradling a phone to one side. They can also become activated when chilled by a cold draft, air conditioning, or if the person is fatigued or suffering from post exercise stiffness. They can also be activated by a viral illness, which explains many of the aches and pains commonly suffered along with flu and chronic viral infections.

When a trigger point becomes active the body will normally brace against pain by adopting “guarding habits” which limit motion and ward off pain. These habits lead to recurrent or chronic episodes of pain that are more dull than acute, accompanied by stiffness and dysfunction of the muscles involved. Eventually such muscles become weakened, even atrophied from disuse, and one will report difficulty with certain movements or simply turning the head.