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What are Trigger Points?

Man in seated position with chiropractor thumbs applying pressure to trapezius muscles

“ You found it!” 

Trigger points, often referred to as knots, are sensitive and tight areas within the muscle belly which can provoke a pain response. These trigger points are usually quite obvious to the doctor or therapist, and when pressure is applied it will affect the surrounding tissue. A common trigger point is found in the upper trapezius muscle. When pressure is applied patients may feel radiation go up and around their ear. Providing relief to this particular trigger point has been useful for patients experiencing tension headaches and neck pain.   

A number of potential causes for Trigger Points, include:

  • Joint problems and hypermobility
  • Muscle overuse and respective micro-trauma
  • Chronic stress condition
  • Lack of exercise
  • Ageing
  • Poor posture
  • Injury
  • Vitamin deficiencies (commonly vitamins C, D, B; folic acid; iron)
  • Poor sleep

By incorporating trigger point therapy the doctor or therapist puts pressure on these specific points to relax the muscle and tissues affected. As the pressure is applied the pain may become more apparent, but it also has the odd effect of feeling good at the same time. I previously discussed the benefits massage therapy offers in conjunction with Chiropractic treatment. Pain resulting from trigger points can be treated using both treatment methods as it not only reduces pain at the affected muscle, but also the surrounding tissues! 

Woman uses massage ball on back against white wall

Home Care for Trigger Points

You’ve probably heard of trigger point balls. They are a convenient option for when pain presents while you’re at work or traveling. Simply grab your ball and place it against a hard surface, like the floor or the wall, and gently massage the ball into the trigger point. Apply enough pressure to release the trigger point but not so much as to cause irritation. If you are wincing or clenching your jaw you are probably applying too much pressure and can ease off a bit.

-Dr.Connor Hoy

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