- What are trigger points?
- Why do trigger points form?
- Typical symptoms of trigger points
- How can you deal with trigger points?
Trigger points are described as hyperirritable spots in the fascia and muscles. They are palpable hard lumps or ‘knots’ in the muscles or fascia. Touching the trigger points can cause referred pain (specific for a given muscle), local pain where the area is touched and even symptoms of the autonomic nervous system (sweating, retching).
Trigger points can also form in other tissues such as the skin, body fat, tendons, ligaments, joint capsules and the periosteum. However, they do not cause referred pain.
All different kinds of imbalances can be the source of trigger points – e.g. in the case of muscular imbalances between the front and back of the body due to poor diet (obese people), trigger points will be present in several places the lower back, and most likely in the abdomen in the psoas major muscle.
It is also possible that trigger points form due to internal organs not working correctly (liver, bowel, pancreas).
Metabolic imbalances in the muscles caused by excessive stress, an unhealthy diet, too much training or sitting in one position in front of a computer, also contribute significantly to the formation of trigger points. During prolonged muscle cramp, there is a higher need for energy but at the same time a lower blood flow, which reduces the amount of oxygen and energy which is necessary for muscles to work properly. The evacuation of metabolites necessary for metabolism is also negatively affected. If this state maintains itself over a long period of time, trigger points form.
If trigger points are present, you can experience significant joint stiffness. The muscles where the trigger points are located are weakened.
Another important symptom that implies the presence of trigger points is referred pain typical for a given muscle which is described in special maps. The pain occurs during physical activity, rest and during a physical examination.
A good way to treat trigger points is to perform a series of presses to apply pressure directly to the point. It can sometimes be difficult to do yourself. You have to push down on the skin for at least 10-15 seconds. If the pain gets better you continue pushing down until it is significantly alleviated. Sometimes, you can use a tennis ball, roller, or a water bottle to do this.
In most cases treatment for trigger points is effective. However, you need to bear in mind the fact that if we do not eliminate the actual cause of the most painful trigger points, the symptoms will keep coming back.