Trigger points are painful knots that develop in certain parts of the body, such as the neck, shoulders, arms, back, and legs. Approximately 86 million Americans are suffering from chronic pain in these areas, and in majority of the cases, trigger points are the major contributing factor to their discomfort.
Trigger points form when the particular body part is either injured or overused. A trigger point can be produced after a single event like a car or sports accident, or it can form when muscles are strained through improper posture or repetitive movements, such as in ergonomically-incorrect work posture, or in sports.
Pain Caused by Trigger Points
If you have any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from trigger points: dizziness, neck and jaw pain, sinusitis, headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and toothache.
Trigger points cause muscles to tighten and even shorten, and pain is felt when spasms occur in the trigger point. When there is pain associated with movement, the normal reaction is to avoid using that part and compensate with other parts of the body. However, this only encourages development of new trigger points on the newly-overused area and weakens the unused muscles, creating a vicious cycle called the “use, abuse, and disuse” scenario.
Trigger points also cause “referred pain,” which is pain felt in an area of the body different from source of the pain itself. Conventional treatments fail since the root cause of the pain is not addressed, because the source of the pain cannot be located.
Treatment of Trigger Points
If you’ve suffered from trigger points, you’ve probably tried out several things meant to treat muscle pain, from using hot compresses, to deep issue massage, using tennis balls to put pressure on the pained body part, or perhaps you have even used medication, in extreme cases. While some of these options do improve blood flow, they don’t really treat the trigger point itself.
Trigger point therapy has been identified as one of the most effective treatment options. It involves manual pressure applied to the painful area which quickly eliminates muscle and tissue pain.
Traditional chiropractic care is also very effective in the treatment of trigger points. Upon examination, chiropractors will feel for bumps, bands, and lumps in the muscles, and when trigger points are found, may put pressure on the painful area to relieve pain, or they may use dry needling.
When trigger points are found, chiropractors first apply pressure on the area using their thumbs or fingers. The duration depends upon the muscle’s response; once the trigger points melt and disappear, the chiropractor then does deep tissue massage.
With dry needling, the chiropractor inserts an acupuncture needle into the trigger point to inactivate it and to increase blood flow in the area.
If you have chronic pain which seems to persist regardless of the kind and duration of conventional treatments you have gotten, it may be time to consider trigger point therapy and/or other chiropractic care. Now is the time for the pain to stop and for you to get your life back!