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What is a trigger point & how can it cause me pain?

Posted by Cameron on December 1, 2017

A trigger point is a small lump that forms in a tight band of muscle tissue. It can cause many different types of pain. It can be a dull constant ache, a sharp shooting pain or a pain in a completely different area to where the pain is (referred pain). Levels of pain caused by trigger points can vary from intermittently and quite mild to constant and sever pain or anything in-between.

A good way to describe the feel of a trigger point is a partially cooked piece of spaghetti deep within the muscle. This will also cause a tight band to form which feels like a piece of rope or guitar string.

Why should you care about trigger points?
Trigger points are one of the largest causes of pain in the human body. They can be the primary cause of pain or secondary. Even when secondary (caused by another source such as a muscle tear) the pain caused and referred by trigger points can be worse than the injury itself! In most muscular injuries a large portion of the pain can be caused by trigger points.
Trigger points are known to contribute to:

  • Head aches
  • Neck & Jaw pain
  • Upper, mid & low back pain
  • Joint pain – incl. hip, shoulder & knee
  • Arthritis

What do trigger points feel like?
Trigger points cause many different types of pain. It can be a dull constant ache, a sharp shooting pain or a pain in a completely different area to where the pain is (referred pain). The fact that trigger point pain can exist with other causes of pain can make treatment quite complex.

So we can easily understand that trigger points cause us pain, but what exactly is a trigger point?
Essentially a trigger point is a small cluster of muscle fibres in a state of contracture. If nothing is done to release these fibres they will not release themselves.  This leads to further muscle dysfunction, which leads to more trigger points forming and usually pain! It can be a vicious cycle.

How can I fix the pain caused by trigger points?
Trigger point therapy, a technique used in nearly every treatment we do at Rapid Recovery is one of the best ways to help relieve trigger points. It gently helps to stretch the fibres that are in a state of contracture and improve blood flow to the area.

Stretching is also another therapeutic activity to relieve trigger points. A gentle stretch to a trigger point can help to unlock fibres in contracture and restore the muscle to a more functional state.

Strengthening is the final step in the treatment of trigger points. Generally trigger points form due to too much load on a muscle (muscle is not strong enough to cope with demands placed on it) or incorrect biomechanics of a joint, generally caused by muscle imbalances. We can provide prescribe the exercises that would be best for you.

What do I think about trigger points?
Trigger points cause a lot of pain & dysfunction within the musculoskeletal system.  It can be something as general as a back or head ache or trigger point pain caused after a muscular injury.

Even trigger points caused by another injury can be extremely debilitating & a lack of education within the health system means a lot of people live in constant pain or on high doses of drugs when they don’t have to. Treatment of trigger points is usually extremely effective and it is very rare to have a client not improve their pain levels and quality of life.

If you or someone you know are experiencing pain that may be caused by trigger points (intermittent or constant aches (including head aches) or sharp shooting pain) feel free to call us for advice 0488 660 491. Many people who live in constant pain don’t have to, only problems is they don’t realise it!

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