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A Primer on Trigger Points

Chronic pain—a condition that can seem to swell up at the worst possible times—may have many disparate causes. One of those is “trigger points,” knots of tight muscle that are themselves symptoms of myofascial pain …

Chronic pain—a condition that can seem to swell up at the worst possible times—may have many disparate causes. One of those is “trigger points,” knots of tight muscle that are themselves symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome.

Fortunately, these bothersome tangles can be treated through chiropractic techniques. Below, we’ve answered a few common questions regarding trigger points, as well as our modalities for treating them here at PMR.

What are trigger points?

As our own doctors describe them, trigger points are “knots that develop in a muscle when it is injured and overworked.” But there’s more going on beneath the surface, too. Trigger points are related to fascia, soft tissue that carpets the inside of the body—including our nerves, organs, and muscles.

Specifically, myofascia covers the muscles, and under repeated stress from repetitive motion, myosfascia can experience tears and adhesions. In turn, these “trigger points” build up and cause chronic pain, tenderness, and limited range of motion in the joints.

How are they related to other conditions? 

Trigger points are the center of myofascial pain syndrome, in which the trigger points feel tender and can even cause pain in disparate, seemingly unrelated areas of the body. The symptoms of myofascial pain may also be related to other complaints, such as headaches, back pain, bursitis, and sciatica. When the trigger points are treated, these conditions are treated, too.

What forms of treatment are available?

Chiropractic manipulation and trigger point therapy are among the most effective treatments for trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome. Through trigger point therapy, our doctors locate and ease the pain caused by trigger points by applying pressure, which causes trigger points to relax and release their tension.

In some cases, doctors may use another form of treatment involving injections. A needle is inserted into the trigger point, and an injection of a local anesthetic is made. The goal is to relax the trigger point or knot, resulting in lasting pain relief.

Continuing self-care is also an important component of treating trigger points and related pain. Your chiropractor may teach you certain home exercises and stretches that can speed up healing and help you to manage the pain.

If you think your pain or discomfort may be related to trigger points, contact us at PMR for more information today!

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