Muscular Trigger Points
A trigger point, also known as a “knot”, is a small patch of tightly contracted muscle. With trigger points, there is usually a taught band in the muscles and a hard nodule or “knot” can be felt. These knots develop most often when a muscle is overworked or injured. The pain is localized and highly sensitive to pain. When the trigger point is pressed, however, the pain can travel to different parts of the body (referred pain).
Trigger points are caused by the over use of muscles. As an example, people with desk jobs, are always looking down for a long period of time and this forces the muscles in their neck and upper to remain contracted to support their head all day long without rest. This over use of the muscles can cause tension, stiffness, and trigger points.
Trigger points are often treated by massage therapists by applying deep pressure to the areas of pain. Deep pressure “milks” the trigger point by pushing blood and toxins out of the area. Another form of treatment for knots is the use of trigger point injections. The injection contains a local anesthestic that can include a steroid. The purpose of the injection is to decrease the area of inflammation and to inactivate the trigger point. Both these types of treatments may be effective but they can also be very painful.
A less invasive and painless treatment option is therapeutic ultrasound. Therapeutic ultrasound neutralizes pain mediators by increasing the circulation in the painful area and it can also cause other changes that result in decreased inflammation. The effectiveness of ultrasound therapy is comparable to trigger point injections and should be offered as a treatment choice, especially for people who are terrified of needles.