What Are Trigger Points?

What Are Trigger Points?

In our daily lives, we often experience various aches, pains, and muscle tension. While some discomforts may be temporary, others can persist and hinder our overall well-being. One possible culprit behind these stubborn sources of pain and tension is trigger points.

Chiropractic care, with its holistic approach to health and healing, plays a vital role in identifying and treating trigger points. but before getting to treatment, let’s first understand what they are and their relation to pain and injuries.

Understanding Trigger Points

Trigger points, also known as muscle knots or adhesions, are hyper-irritable spots within muscle fibers that can cause pain, tension, and restricted movement. They can be found anywhere throughout the body’s musculoskeletal system. These points typically develop due to various factors, including overuse, micro-stress, repetitive motion, injuries that didn’t heal well, trauma, or underlying health conditions.

When adhesions form, they can refer pain to other areas of the body, making it challenging to pinpoint the source of discomfort. Sometimes you can feel these knots when you rub, massage or press on your muscle in specific areas.

Identifying Trigger Points

Chiropractors are skilled in identifying trigger points through a combination of manual palpation, patient history, and careful assessment of symptoms. During an examination, chiropractors apply gentle pressure to specific areas of the body, searching for tender nodules or taut bands within the muscles. In some cases, a muscle knot may not be sore or achey until pressure is applied to the area.

trigger point

How Does It Relate to Pain, Tension, and Injuries?

Muscle knots can cause a variety of symptoms, including localized pain, referred pain, muscle stiffness, limited range of motion, and even headaches. By examining the pattern of pain referral, you can often trace the discomfort back to its originating trigger point.

For example, a trigger point in the neck muscles might lead to headaches or pain radiating down the arm. On the other hand, if you have localized pain in your low back, you may actually have a trigger point located in your low back muscles that is associated with the pain.

When left untreated, they can cause muscle imbalances, altered movement patterns, and increased stress on surrounding tissues. Over time, this can lead to chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome.

Treating Trigger Points

There are a range of effective treatments to address trigger points and provide relief. These often include active release techniques, dry needling or even trigger point injections.

Checkout some of our favorite active release and recovery items you can use at-home here!

The key with treating any muscular adhesions is to stimulate the body’s natural healing response. This happens by any number of the above mentioned treatments acting as a irritant to the muscle. For instance, if you take a lacrosse ball and roll it deeply against the trigger point(s) on your sore calf muscles, you will immediately feel it irritating the muscle. This is the “hurt so good” feeling. Your body recognizes this feeling and responds with a healing response.

The Healing Response

When the body detects an injury or irritation to the muscle it naturally deploys white blood cells and cytokines to the area for repair. You might be wondering, if this response naturally deploys for an injury why isn’t that enough the first time around? Sometimes the muscles do not heal properly as a result of protecting the area and minimizing further injury. Ever felt stiff after resting an injured body part? This is because without mobility and proper rehab exercises, the body will recover naturally but not with your mobility in mind. The reason we want to re-stimulate the healing response post-injury is to force the body to respond to a specific area while also using recovery techniques to promote healing and mobility within the muscle.

Additionally, as a result of deep tissue treatments, the area may become temporarily sore, red or swollen. However, this process is promoting healing within the muscle to alleviate pain and restore the fibers without adhesions present. What you should NOT experience is excruciating or unbearable pain, nerve pain, shooting pains or other startling pains. These types of pain are signals for something greater at hand that may require medical attention.

trigger point, muscle release

Common supportive treatments may also include:

  1. Manual Therapy: There are various hands-on techniques such as myofascial release, deep tissue massage, and stretching to release tension in affected muscles. By applying specific pressure, you can help break up adhesions, relax muscle fibers, and promote healing. Items such as lacrosse balls, foam rollers and golf balls are great at-home tools for relief.
  2. Chiropractic Adjustments: Lack of mobility can contribute to the formation of muscle knots. Chiropractic adjustments help relieve muscle tension and reduce the occurrence of muscle knots. By gently manipulating the spine, chiropractors can restore joint mobility and improve overall musculoskeletal and nerve health.
  3. Corrective Exercises: Your chiropractor can prescribe specific exercises and stretches to strengthen weak muscles, improve posture, and prevent trigger points from recurring. These exercises focus on restoring balance, flexibility, and strength to the affected muscles and surrounding areas.
  4. Postural Education: It is important to maintain good mobility, lifting techniques, and ergonomic modifications to reduce stress on muscles and prevent muscle knots and tension formation.
  5. Lifestyle Modifications: Stress management techniques, relaxation exercises, and nutrition can support overall musculoskeletal health and reduce the likelihood of trigger point development.
trigger point, dry needling

Final Thoughts

Muscle knots can be a significant source of pain, tension, and reduced function. However, freedom from these knots is possible with the right tools. The next time you’re experiencing pain, try a lacrosse ball or foam roller to roll out the muscle. If that doesn’t work for you, reach out to your local chiropractor for manual therapy, adjustments, rehab exercises and other therapies that can help you in whatever stage you’re in.

Get Treated At Kaizo Health

Our goal at Kaizo Health is to always get you back to feeling 100%. Our doctors provide treatment to help you be pain-free. We also have a dedicated team that will work with you and your insurance. We want to make sure you get the most from your benefits. You should experience relief for as little cost to you as possible. If you are ready to experience relief from the pain, make an appointment to see us now.

Kaizo Health has 4 locations in the DMV area:

Our chiropractors use an evidence-based approach by combining chiropractic care and individualized rehabilitative exercises. We provide the treatment and resources you need to recover your health. We are here to help!