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What Are Trigger Points?

Many people have experienced that moment when rubbing a sore neck or getting a massage — the discovery of a hypersensitive spot that feels like someone glued a marble under your skin. Ouch.

Most often, these are trigger points, and they can range from minor irritants to major pain sources. Here are some quick basics that can help:

What they are: Over every muscle is fascia, a sheet of connective tissue that's made primarily of collagen. This stabilizes muscles and also separates them. One common analogy is to imagine peeled orange wedges. The white, thready material keeps the juice inside and forms a connection with the other wedges. Similarly, the fascia maintains the integrity of the muscle while connecting to the bone.

When there's injury, overuse, or trauma to an area, a point can develop within the fascia that retains lactic acid and basically, it gets stuck there. When that happens, oxygen flow to the muscle starts to dwindle and that causes pain and stress on muscle fibers.

Why it matters: Although trigger points can be common, that doesn't mean they're harmless. Not only can the body compensate around the injury — putting other muscles at risk for developing trigger points — but the lack of oxygen flow to the affected muscle can lead to more extensive damage. 

Some points are classified as "latent," which means they aren't causing problems yet, but may in the future. Others are "active," creating pain even when the muscle is at rest. Both types can create spreading or radiating pain, and can affect athletic performance and even hinder everyday tasks.

How they're treated: Treatment for trigger points can range from deep massage to dry needling.

When used as part of a larger treatment plan, dry needling in combination with physical therapy can offer long-lasting results after just a few sessions. The needling alleviates the trigger points, while the therapy corrects muscle imbalances that may have caused them in the first place.

Whether you compare them to marbles or oranges, trigger points are a pain. The sooner you can address them, the happier your muscles will be.

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.

Posted by jhammond at 8/2/2016 6:17:00 PM
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