Trigger points are very common and most people would have experienced pain or discomfort as a result of these points at some stage in their life. Trigger points can develop as a result of many factors including overload, over stretch, injury, postural strain and trauma.
So what are they?
Trigger points are defined as palpable nodules within a taut band of a muscle that is tender on compression and gives rise to local and referred pain. The type of pain elicited is often dull and achy in nature and can be felt at a distant area to the location of the trigger point (this is referred pain).
When a muscle becomes stressed some of the muscle fibers or sarcomeres (the functional unit of a muscle fiber) remain in a shorted state even when the muscle is relaxed. This is what causes the taut bands and hard nodules that we can feel in the muscle and are referred to as trigger points.
It is thought that over time contracted muscles fibers or sarcomeres can cause local ischemia and lead to a decrease in pH that induces the release of several inflammatory mediators that sensitize pain receptors in the area.. This is one of the key factors giving rise local and referred pain that is characteristic of trigger points.
The presence of trigger points also commonly cause muscle weakness, a local twitch response on stimulation and prevents the muscle from lengthening completely. As such common symptoms include local and referred pain, restricted range of motion and decreased muscle function and strength.
How can Myotherapy help?
If you are experiencing pain, Myotherapy can help to determine the source of the pain and in many cases trigger points may be involved. Modalities that can be used to help deactivate any present trigger points include soft tissue mobilization (using various massage techniques), dry needling, cupping, stretching and appropriate exercises and home management plan in order to restore function and decrease pain.
In addition to manual therapy your Myotherapist will also assess any perpetuating factors that can be addressed to decrease the chances of the return of the trigger points and associated pain.
By Claire Barnes – Elite Myotherapist