Trigger points are small contractions/knots within a muscle. These are usually felt as little nodules within the muscle tissue that are quite tender to touch. People may not even be aware that they have trigger points until they are pressed on, or they may be the source of their local and referred pain. Trigger points are unique as they have the ability not only to cause pain and muscle dysfunction locally, but they are known for causing referred pain into different parts of the body. A common example we see in our clinic are trigger points associated with headaches. Often, patients headaches are caused by trigger point referred pain from the muscles in the neck and shoulder.
Recent research has shown that active trigger points contain many chemicals associated with pain and inflammation. This can also affect the local nerves and joints near the trigger point. Trigger Point Therapy involves applying controlled pressure over the nodule/knot in order to remove the nasty chemicals within the trigger point. This may elicit some discomfort and may even create referred pain. Usually this pressure is held until the pain starts to subside or even disappear completely. By deactivating the trigger pain we are able to normalise the tone (feel) of the muscle and reduce the patient’s pain and symptoms.