Trigger Points Release

What is a Trigger Point?

Trigger points are small, irritable areas located within the muscle tissue manifested as a taut band of skeletal muscle. These points produce pain local to the muscle and also refer pain to further muscles in the body.

It is thought that the trigger points develop after acute trauma or repetition microtrauma to the muscle tissue. You may feel that you have constant pain to a certain area of your muscle which is causing reduced movement to a specific joint or part of your body.

This commonly occurs in muscles over the top of the shoulders and around the neck, specifically the muscles that are affected by poor posture. Trigger points in these areas may then refer pain up the neck and into the head, causing headaches. This is also a common cause for lower back pain with trigger points to the buttock muscles referring pain across the lower back.

Triggers points are commonly diagnosed through palpation to the hypersensitive band of muscle, which is a harder consistency than normal muscle tissue and produces pain that may be referred further a field.

What activities cause the trigger points to develop?

Activities such as holding a mobile phone between the ear and shoulder in order to free your arms, sitting in an office chair that has poor back support, repetitive lifting of objects with poor body positions, repetitive movement in sport (tennis shot, golf swing, kick in football) all contribute to trigger points within the muscle.

Injuries in sport from an acute sprain to a joint or muscle tear, surgical scars and tissues recovering from joint replacement surgery are also a common cause for trigger points, causing pain to the local area and also referring pain to other areas of the body.

How can trigger points be treated?

Physiotherapist's are trained to treat trigger points in a number of different ways, most commonly through a combination of methods.

The most common method used is trigger point release massage. This involves the physiotherapist applying direct pressure over the tight band of tissue, causing it to relax. A combination of this direct pressure, gentle massage to surrounding tissues and therapeutic exercises will help treat the trigger point and prevent compensatory pain/injuries. Once the trigger point has been treated, it will allow the physiotherapist to discover the route of the problem and provide further treatment to prevent the trigger point returning.

Acupuncture is also a common method of treating trigger points. Needles are guided in to the area of the trigger point, causing the area to relax and become de-sensitised. This method is extremely effective commonly used throughout the sporting world when treating trigger points.

I have pain in my lower back which radiates down my leg, would I benefit from trigger point release treatment?

Yes, the pain in your lower back will be apparent because of a trigger point that may have developed because of a number of reasons. This may be from trauma to the area, poor posture, muscle imbalance or repetitive movements to name a few.The physiotherapist can complete a thorough assessment and complete necessary treatment to reduce the sensitivity of the area, allowing the tissue to return to its previous state. The treatment is typically relatively uncomfortable, however the benefits will be profound. The treatment will allow the muscle to function effectively and the joints to move freely and through their full range.

I suffered with a dead leg when playing football and I still have pain in my thigh, is this related to a trigger point?

Yes it is very likely that the injury sustained from a dead leg develops in to a painful trigger point if not treated correctly. This can cause the muscle to be painful during movement, affecting its ability to contract, become very tight and restrict its movement. After an assessment by one of our physiotherapists, trigger point release can be used to help relax the specific point within the muscle and break down any associated scar tissue. The physiotherapist could also provide you with a stretching routine to help release the tension, as well as advise you with heat or use alternative methods such as acupuncture.

If you would like to discuss your problem before booking an appointment please give our physiotherapy team a call, we will do our best to help.