What Is Trigger Point? And How Can We Fix It?

Emily Machar – Remedial Massage Therapist

Have you ever heard someone say ‘I’ve got a knot in my neck’?  The knot they are referring to is what we commonly call a trigger point, and they can be quite painful over time. Let me give you an insight into exactly what the term trigger point means, and how you can relieve them both in and out of the clinic.

Picture this, you spend all day hunched over a desk, staring at a computer and relying on the muscles in your upper back and neck to hold your head up. Over time, this muscle known as the trapezius has been overworked and all of a sudden your neck becomes stiff and movement can potentially be limited. Internally the fibres in the muscle have become overstretched and, in parts, become contracted. This collection of muscle fibers forms the knot that we refer to as a ‘trigger point’.

Let’s dissect this a bit more. When a muscle contracts the fibers shrink and can reduce the blood flow throughout the tissue. Muscles need adequate blood flow for the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to help with muscle strength. When blood flow is compromised, waste products such as toxins build up in the area causing pain, tension and even spasms.

So how do we locate trigger points?

Usually you will feel a hard, rope like structure sometimes even feeling like there is a little ball located under your skin. A trigger point will often be quite sensitive to touch and may even refer pain when pressure is applied. Trigger points usually have a ‘pair’ so if you find one one the right side there will usually be one on the left with the most painful point out of the two being on the side giving off pain. Trigger points in the neck and shoulder region also have the ability to cause headaches, a phenomenon we call “cervicogenic headaches”.

Trigger points can be quite fascinating as well when it comes to referral patterns. What is referral pain you may ask? Referred pain is pain that either descends or ascends from the trigger point itself. For example, a trigger point in your shoulder has the potential to refer pain down the arm or up into the head and neck causing you to think the arm or neck is sore. The reality is, the real culprit is that little trigger point in your shoulder. Another example of referred pain I commonly see is found in the lower back. Often these trigger points have descending referral pathways meaning that they tend to refer down your leg or into your gluteal muscles (in your bottom) Lower back and shoulder trigger points are the two most common sites I see for referred pain in the clinic and both can be treated with a combination of treatment options.

How do we relieve them?

One of the best ways to get relief and to tackle these trigger points is to have a treatment provided by your remedial massage therapist. Working directly on trigger points using a combination of dry needling and soft tissue techniques can be extremely beneficial in reducing your symptoms. If you are unable to attend an appointment, I often find that a spikey ball can help to alleviate pain, and just may well become your best friend. I also like to send my clients home with some stretches to help with the prevention of future trigger points.

[fusion_builder_column spacing=”” center_content=”no” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” hover_type=”none” border_size=”0″ border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” gradient_start_color=”” gradient_end_color=”” gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ background_color=”” background_image=”” background_image_id=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_blend_mode=”none” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” filter_hue=”0″ filter_saturation=”100″ filter_brightness=”100″ filter_contrast=”100″ filter_invert=”0″ filter_sepia=”0″ filter_opacity=”100″ filter_blur=”0″ filter_hue_hover=”0″ filter_saturation_hover=”100″ filter_brightness_hover=”100″ filter_contrast_hover=”100″ filter_invert_hover=”0″ filter_sepia_hover=”0″ filter_opacity_hover=”100″ filter_blur_hover=”0″ type=”1_2″]

[/fusion_builder_column]

[fusion_builder_column spacing=”” center_content=”no” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” hover_type=”none” border_size=”0″ border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” gradient_start_color=”” gradient_end_color=”” gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ background_color=”” background_image=”” background_image_id=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_blend_mode=”none” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” filter_hue=”0″ filter_saturation=”100″ filter_brightness=”100″ filter_contrast=”100″ filter_invert=”0″ filter_sepia=”0″ filter_opacity=”100″ filter_blur=”0″ filter_hue_hover=”0″ filter_saturation_hover=”100″ filter_brightness_hover=”100″ filter_contrast_hover=”100″ filter_invert_hover=”0″ filter_sepia_hover=”0″ filter_opacity_hover=”100″ filter_blur_hover=”0″ type=”1_2″]

[/fusion_builder_column]

[fusion_builder_column spacing=”” center_content=”no” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” hover_type=”none” border_size=”0″ border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” gradient_start_color=”” gradient_end_color=”” gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ background_color=”” background_image=”” background_image_id=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_blend_mode=”none” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” filter_hue=”0″ filter_saturation=”100″ filter_brightness=”100″ filter_contrast=”100″ filter_invert=”0″ filter_sepia=”0″ filter_opacity=”100″ filter_blur=”0″ filter_hue_hover=”0″ filter_saturation_hover=”100″ filter_brightness_hover=”100″ filter_contrast_hover=”100″ filter_invert_hover=”0″ filter_sepia_hover=”0″ filter_opacity_hover=”100″ filter_blur_hover=”0″ type=”1_2″]

[/fusion_builder_column]

[fusion_builder_column spacing=”” center_content=”no” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” hover_type=”none” border_size=”0″ border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” gradient_start_color=”” gradient_end_color=”” gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ background_color=”” background_image=”” background_image_id=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_blend_mode=”none” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” filter_hue=”0″ filter_saturation=”100″ filter_brightness=”100″ filter_contrast=”100″ filter_invert=”0″ filter_sepia=”0″ filter_opacity=”100″ filter_blur=”0″ filter_hue_hover=”0″ filter_saturation_hover=”100″ filter_brightness_hover=”100″ filter_contrast_hover=”100″ filter_invert_hover=”0″ filter_sepia_hover=”0″ filter_opacity_hover=”100″ filter_blur_hover=”0″ type=”1_2″][/fusion_builder_column]

[fusion_builder_column spacing=”” center_content=”no” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” hover_type=”none” border_size=”0″ border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” gradient_start_color=”” gradient_end_color=”” gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ background_color=”” background_image=”” background_image_id=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_blend_mode=”none” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” filter_hue=”0″ filter_saturation=”100″ filter_brightness=”100″ filter_contrast=”100″ filter_invert=”0″ filter_sepia=”0″ filter_opacity=”100″ filter_blur=”0″ filter_hue_hover=”0″ filter_saturation_hover=”100″ filter_brightness_hover=”100″ filter_contrast_hover=”100″ filter_invert_hover=”0″ filter_sepia_hover=”0″ filter_opacity_hover=”100″ filter_blur_hover=”0″ type=”1_1″]So if you think you or someone you know has a trigger point causing pain, or perhaps you have some pesky knots in your neck and shoulders, head in to see one of our team at Beyond today. Our team of therapists will work with you on a plan to address these trigger points and get you back to doing the things you love in no time at all.  Read more about remedial massage here[/fusion_builder_column]

trigger point
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Latest Posts
Scroll to Top