What is a Trigger Point?

Do you experience any of the following symptoms?

  • continuous pain / tenderness in a muscle?
  • muscle weakness but no muscle atrophy / wasting?
  • recent increased muscle ‘tone’ or thickness without increased activity?
  • a palpable tight band of muscle that is painful / makes you jump when pressed upon?
  • pain when contracting or stretching a muscle?
  • a recent decrease in circulation to an area / muscle?

If so, you may have a Myofascial Trigger Point (TrP)..  In a nutshell, a Trigger Point is an angry, hyperirritable segment of muscle that causes specific pain referral patterns in the body. It can also exhibit neurological symptoms like numbness and tingling, restrict your range of motion and muscle strength.

There are 5 different types of TrPs. Some are painful at rest, while others are only felt when palpated / compressed, or while under mechanical strain or overload.

A healthy muscle does not contain TrPs and should not be point tender. Referred pain should not be present. If you experience any of these above symptoms, you should consider contacting your favorite massage therapist for a treatment.

The exact cause of TrPs is unknown, but contributing factors include (and not limited to)..

  • trauma (ie: muscle strains)
  • direct or indirect trauma (ie: muscle overload, overwork fatigue, visceral pain and emotional stress)
  • leaving a muscle in a shortened position (ie: sleeping on your belly with one leg out to the side)
  • mechanical stresses (ie: bony assymmetries / imbalances such as leg length differences)
  • postural stresses / body mechanics
  • muscle constriction (ie: wearing a backpack / purse on your shoulder)
  • metabolic imbalances (ie: hypothyroid, hypoglycemia)
  • psychological factors (ie: depression and anxiety)
  • chronic infection (ie: sinusitis, herpes simplex)
  • impaired sleep
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