A Professional Physio Can Educate You on How Trigger Points Are Formed

The muscle is considered as the largest organ. With over 400 muscles in the body, it accounts for about 30 to 40 percent of the average person’s body mass. Any one of these muscles can unfortunately develop trigger points that cause varying levels of pain and mobility issues.

A trigger point is a type of stiffness in the muscles and tissues that sends “referred” pain to another distant area of the body. When pressed, it feels like a knot or a tight band in the muscle the size of a mustard seed. Since the muscle affected is already contracted, you will only have a limited range of use for it. Unreleased, this prolonged contraction is what’s causing the pain, and may even lead to permanent or irreversible injury if not treated promptly.

While your physio can give you plenty of options for treatment, the best approach to trigger point pain is prevention. Knowing just how these trigger points are commonly formed can help you avoid experiencing debilitating pain in the future. Here are some of the known causes of trigger points.

Muscle Trauma from Injuries

Trauma of any kind can cause significant harm to the body. Slip and fall accidents, car collisions or sports injuries are just some types of muscle trauma that can trigger a trigger point. It’s good practice therefore to always seek medical attention immediately after suffering blows, strains, breaks, twists, or tears that result from such events.

After an incident, you may feel lingering pain and limited mobility in the knee or ankle. This doesn’t always mean that the cause of the injury lies in those areas. A trigger point may have developed in the quadriceps and calf muscles. You might also experience pain in the lower back region, only to find out that the trigger point is located in the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus.

Repetitive Motions or Overuse

People who perform certain actions day in and day out at work are at high risk of developing trigger points. Repetitive motions such as typing on a keyboard and using handheld power tools often cause overuse injuries.

Trigger points may manifest as stiffness or pain in the shoulder, neck area or upper back area. Upper limb pain is almost always referred from trigger points somewhere farther along the arm or even under the arm, and the pectoral muscles. Pain felt in the shoulder area could be mistaken as tendonitis or bursitis due to the similarities in the symptoms that are presented. Trigger points for these are sometimes found on the upper back or the back of the neck.

Mental and Emotional Stress

It may come as a surprise to some, but being in mental or emotional distress can affect the human body in a physical way as well. You may not even be aware that your muscles are habitually clenching and tensing up. These actions are often subtle, but they put the facial and neck muscles under a lot of stress.

You could experience sore throat or even feel a lump in the throat because of this. Trigger points for these conditions can be found anywhere around the throat. Sometimes, the signs of trigger points appear under the guise of chronic jaw pain, earaches, tinnitus, dizziness, sinusitis or toothaches. It’s most likely that there are trigger points along the jaw, face, head or neck areas.

These are only some of the so-called “triggers” of trigger points. As a physiotherapist might tell you, other unhealthy practices or habits you have could be causing them to develop elsewhere on your body. Aside from treatment, a physio from reputable clinics like Institute of Sport Physiotherapy can help you avoid trigger points through education and exercises. Phone Graeme now for an appointment on (09) 379 5767.

Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy – What Is It?, National Association of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists
Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain Syndrome, PainScience.com

What to Expect with Your First Trigger Point Therapy Appointment at an Institute of Sport Physio

Trigger points can manifest as decreased range of motion, persistent pain, tension headache, tinnitus, temporomandibular joint pain and other symptoms. This ability to inflict “referred” pain is precisely why trigger point diagnosis could prove to be challenging for a clinician in your local general hospital. What you need to do is visit a practice that can specifically deal with your condition, such as an institute of sport physio.

A physiotherapy clinic offers a more focused rehabilitation approach to trigger points. To get you started on your path to long-term pain relief, here’s what you can expect from your first appointment.

Patient History

Diagnosis of trigger points usually starts with you and a physiotherapist going over your clinical history. This is a crucial step in differentiating trigger points from the more common “tender” points. Essentially, a trigger point is a discrete, focal, hyperirritable spot within a band of skeletal muscle that causes referred pain. A tender point, on the other hand, causes total body increase in pain sensitivity instead of referred pain.

Your physio will ask you about a diagnosis for Fibromyalgia or if any of your relatives were diagnosed with the same condition. You might also be asked if you have ever experienced chronic muscle overuse, mechanical overload or repetitive trauma. A physiotherapist will also inquire after your daily physical activities as well as possible work-related psychological stress or sleep disturbances.
It’s important to disclose all relevant details to your physio, so be as descriptive as possible and don’t leave out crucial health information. You may also ask them about trigger points to gain a better understanding during this time.

Physical Examination

Localisation of trigger points will mostly be done through your therapist’s sense of feel. You will not be required to undergo laboratory testing or imaging techniques. Physical examination will normally include putting controlled pressure on trigger points. Your physio will then observe your expressions of pain or palpable local twitch responses as they go from one zone of reference to another.

During a physical assessment, your therapist will also classify the type of trigger points you have. Trigger points are divided into two groups: active trigger points and latent trigger points. Active ones are known to produce pain symptoms even at rest, and most patients would describe the pain as radiating or spreading. Meanwhile, latent trigger points do not provoke spontaneous pain, but direct mechanical stimulation or muscle contraction can make the pain more evident.

Pain Management

After confirming that your condition is caused by trigger points, your therapist can then present you with a range of options for pain management. Physical therapy is often recommended due the effectiveness of massage, but other modalities like acupuncture can also be considered for your specific case. Your physio may also include rehabilitation exercises or manipulation to your treatment plan for faster recovery and prevention.

Not knowing the cause of your pain can be quite troubling, but you need not worry if you go to the right professionals. A trusted clinic such as Institute of Sport Physiotherapy is more equipped to help you. Phone Graeme now for an appointment on (09) 379 5767.

Trigger Points: Diagnosis and Management, American Academy of Family Physicians
Trigger Point Therapy, ThoughtCo.com

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