Have you ever heard the term trigger point thrown around and not fully understood what your Physio is talking about? Do you get “knots” in your muscles?
An active trigger point is defined as a hyperirritable spot in a skeletal muscle that is associated with a hypersensitive nodule in a taut band (Simons, Travell and Simons, 1999). Applying pressure to the nodule itself can produce referral patterns often similar or familiar to the pain you usually feel as well as a twitch or jump response along the muscle itself.
So what affect would this have on you? Muscles with active trigger points are hypertonic (tight) and weak. They can also significantly restrict your range of motion.
Why is this important and why do we see such drastic improvements when trigger points are treated correctly?
If a movement is restricted and your body and is unable to move as it should to perform an action, the human body is usually clever enough to move abnormally and still achieve the action. In doing so, you place stress on your joints and other muscles and often develop pain in areas that may not even be close to where the actual trigger point is located.
For example, you might feel pain in the front of your shoulder because of a trigger point in a muscle that attaches to your shoulder blade.
Unfortunately, massaging a tight muscle is not always enough in these cases. Having a physiotherapist identify exactly where the nodule is in the taut band of muscle is only the first step. A physiotherapist will aim to release this trigger point, either through massage or dry needling and follow up by retraining your normal movements so this doesn’t relapse. Self release will also be taught during a session.
Other factors your physio might discuss with you to prevent this coming back include, mental or mechanical stresses, altered breathing patterns, nerve impingements, fatigue, common mineral deficiencies, exposing your skin to cold breezes and overindulging in alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.
If you feel like you would benefit from treatment of trigger points or get pain that you just can’t explain, book an appointment with the staff at Village Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation so we can get you back to living life pain free.
Written by Dean (Physiotherapist)