The term trigger point was first introduced way back in 1942 by Dr. Janet Travell where defined it as a “hyperirritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule in a taut band”.
When a muscle contracts repeatedly, there is a build up of lactic acid in the fibres. This leads to constriction of the capillaries which in turn prevents this lactic acid from being circulated.
The result is this “hypersensitive palpable nodule”. In other words, it’s a knot that hurts and it could show up in any one of those 640 muscles.
It is common place to hear Brisbane physio patients complain of their pain as “I have got knots!”.
Here are the facts about Trigger Points:
A Trigger point (TrP) can be active (causing local pain and discomfort) or latent / passive (do not produce spontaneous pain at rest).
- Unfortunately BOTH these types of TrPs can cause muscle tension and shortening (i.e, tight muscles).
- A TrP can cause referred pain into another area of the body. For example: a trigger point in the infraspinatus muscle (which is located on the outside of your shoulder blade) can refer pain into the arm and sometimes as far as the elbow!
- Trigger points in some neck and shoulder muscles can cause pins and needles, headaches, nausea and dizziness. TrPs in the back or buttock, they can refer pain into your legs (and the list goes on!)
- Management options include manual trigger point release techniques, injection therapy (using saline or local anaesthetics) or dry needling.
- They can be aggravated due to mechanical stress on muscles, nutritional inadequacies, metabolic disorders, viral/bacterial illnesses and stress.
- TrP therapy alone may not solve your condition permanently.
Is there a long term prevention?
For long term prevention, a combination of the above techniques along with correction of posture and body mechanics and exercise maybe the most beneficial treatment path. So how do you know if you have one? Well…unfortunately, you don’t. TrPs can really only be discovered and correctly treated if you have a broad knowledge of anatomy and muscle physiology.
Physiotherapists like evidence- based practice. That is why at Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy our therapist have preference to adopt a multi-modal approach in treating patients using massage, trigger point therapy, exercise prescription, correction of ergonomic factors and most importantly providing advice.