What are trigger points


A trigger point is a – often palpable – tiny contracted knot that develops in a muscle when it is injured or overworked. They can occur in every muscle of the body and always on the same places.

The defining symptom of a trigger point is referred pain; that is, trigger points usually send their pain to some other site. This is an extremely misleading phenomenon and is the reason conventional treatments for pain so often fail. They don’t take away the cause of the pain.
It’s a mistake to assume that the problem is at the place that hurts! Research has shown that trigger points are the primary cause of pain 75% of the time and are at least a part of nearly every pain problem.


What causes trigger points:
–    Most important cause is chronic overloading of muscles in work situations
–    Repetitive strain or motion
–    Static habitual muscle tension
–    Overweight
–    Physical factors like unequal leg lenght and an asymmetric pelvis
–    Postural stress by chairs, couches and car seats
–   Tension, anxiety and everyday nervousness
–   Sudden or direct impact or trauma (falls, collisions, due to overstretching or
overcontracting, surgery)

Muscle fibers act like tiny pumps by contracting and relaxing, to circulate blood through the capillaries that supply their metabolic needs. When fibers in a trigger point hold their contraction, blood flow essentially stops in the immediate area. The resulting oxygen starvation and accumulation of the waste products of metabolism irritates the trigger point. The trigger point responds to this emergency by sending out pain signals.


 Health-Choice triggerpoint 4

Letter A is a muscle fiber in a normal resting state, neither stretched nor contracted. Letter B is a knot in a muscle fiber in the state of maximum continuous contraction that characterizes a trigger point. The bulbous appearance of the contraction knot indicates how that segment of the muscle fiber has drawn up and become shorter and wider. Letter C is the part of the muscle fiber that extends from the contraction knot to the muscle’s attachment. Note the greater distance between the Z bands, which displays how the muscle fiber is being stretched by tension within the contraction knot. These overstretched segments of muscle fiber are what cause shortness and tightness in a muscle.


Symptoms of Trigger points:
–   The defining symptom of a trigger point is referred pain. Characteristically, referred pain is
felt most often as an oppressive deep ache, although movement can sharpen the pain.
–   Problems with movement: movement requires some muscles to contract and othes to lenghten.
Movement irritates trigger points and increases pain, making you less and less
inclined to move.
For example if your neck hurts, you stop turning your head to keep the
muscles from suffering
further abuse.
This calls other muscles into action to take up the
burden, but these muscles are bound to get
stressed from doing the ackward, unaccustomed
work, And very soon they develop trigger points
too. The range of motion becomes
progressively limited.
–   Untreated trigger point that go on for months or years can really drag your spirits down.
Chronic pain is a well-known cause of depression, especially if you’ve been told it’s
Sleeplessness and chronic fatique are other very common symptoms of
myofascial trigger points,
because they keep you from resting.

–   Muscles that have been shortened and enlarged by trigger point frequently squeeze nearby
nerves. This can distort the electrical signals that travel along it, resulting in abnormal
such as numbness, tinling, burning and hypersensitivity in the areas served by
the nerve. This is a
very common occurrence in the arms and hands.


Treatment of Trigger points:
Deep, short strokingmassage applied in one direction directly to the trigger points, no static pressure. It relaxes the muscle fibers and cleans the tissue from metabolic waste.


What is the positive effect:
Trigger points hurt when compressed, but you have to realise that pain created by massage is beneficial. The electrical impulses disrupt the neurological feedback loop that maintains the trigger point; you are feeling better, certainly with less pain and better mobility. Especially after severals treatments.

Another positive effect of pain from massage is that it immediatly brings a flood of painkilling endorphins. For this reason, you’ll find that the longer you work on an area, the more pressure you will be able to use and to work deeper with far less discomfort.


Health-Choice triggerpoint 1



Source: Triggerpoint therapy manual by Clair Davies