What is a Trigger Point and how does it cause pain?

A trigger point is a small contraction knot in the expanse of a muscle. It can feel hard and knobbly like a frozen pea. When touched or pressed the client will usually give an involuntary “jump sign”. This is caused by the high irritability of the nerves in that particular area. When compressed, a Trigger Point will often be exquisitely tender and lead to referred pain in other areas of the body. These are sometimes quite far away. I.e. finding a TP around your shoulder blade could produce an aching sensation in your arm or wrist.

How does it do that? As opposed to a muscle spasm, which affects the whole muscle, a TP will only cause a small contraction knot in the muscle. This knot  produces a tight band (a tissue distortion). It is along these tissue distortions that pain can travel into remote areas. The name thus stems from the idea that if you press a TP it will “trigger” pain in remote areas of the problem spot.

Trigger Point pain is usually steady, dull, aching and deep and can vary in intensity from very low grade to almost disabling. This pain can sometimes be dormant. It could be that it will only bother you when you sleep, or when you bend in a certain way, or only when you feel cold.

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