If you have chronic, unexplained symptoms, your doctor may be missing the point
Trigger points are hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules and shortened muscle fibers.
The trigger point model states that pain frequently radiates from these points of local tenderness to broader areas, sometimes distant from the trigger point itself.
Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or a local twitch response.
In prior blogs, I have discussed how trigger points can adversely affect the length-tension relationships in muscles, leading to misaligned joints and faulty movement patterns and resulting in musculoskeletal pain.
Trigger points can cause systemic symptoms too.
Symptoms of Trigger Points of the Scalp, Face and Neck
Headaches, ear aches, eye pain, sinusitis, dental pain, tinnitus, hypersalivation, abnormal tear flow, TMJ pain and throat pain.
Symptoms of Trigger Points of the Trunk and Spine
Pelvic pain, abdominal pain, groin pain, bladder pain, nausea, painful menses, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, genital pain, bloating, dysfunctional breathing, chest pain, fibromyalgia and bed wetting.
Symptoms of Trigger Points in the Muscles of the Shoulder and Upper Arm
Frozen shoulder, fibromyalgia, chest pain.
Symptoms of Trigger Points in the Muscles of the Hip and Thigh
Pelvic pain, genital pain and sexual dysfunction.
Symptoms of Trigger Points in the Muscles of the Leg and Foot
Leg cramps and restless leg syndrome.
How do you know if trigger points are the primary cause of your symptoms?
In my experience, many chronic symptoms with unexplained causes (i.e. people told by their conventional doctors that there is nothing wrong and they will have to live with the problem or treat the symptoms), are a result of trigger points.
Identifying causative trigger points through range of motion testing, muscle testing and palpation is often the key.
A correctly identified trigger point will reproduce the symptoms when stimulated and reduce or eliminate the symptoms when treated – it’s that simple.
What can be tricky is when symptoms recur because the pattern is not completely identified:
1. Trigger Points tend to develop along myofascial meridians with muscles and fascia operating as a continuum. There may be primary points in one area that adversely affect the fascia of another area (which is why it is important to evaluate the entire body not just the symptomatic area).
2. Trigger Points must be released three-dimensionally. Whenever there is dysfunction in the primary muscle (agonist), the opposite muscle (antagonist), helpers (synergists) and stabilizers (core) need to be addressed, because these are all forced to compensate. In chronic conditions, it often works to treat the points in a specific sequence.
Some factors that maintain or perpetuate these trigger points include:
Sports, hobbies, habits
There are a number of techniques that are effective for treating trigger points.
Dry needling and deep fascial release are by far the most effective in my experience.
Performing SMR (Self Myofascial Release) and stretching are also important for long-term resolution of these problems.
If you have chronic symptoms that you have been told you have to live with, you doctor may not be getting the (Trigger) POINT.