30 Tue

Trigger points treatment

Trigger points treatment

Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI


What’s a trigger point?  Well, a trigger point is a gnarly place in a muscle or soft tissue region of the body that totally elicits pain, localized or referred, when it gets pressed.  It can present itself as a small knot, nodule, or tight band in muscle tissue.  As you can imagine, it’s not a pleasant experience to have a trigger point or to have it worked on by a manual physiotherapist.  It can be uncomfortable and downright painful to have the tissue worked to restore it back to its normal length and flexibility.

The trigger point is a very common tissue dysfunction that occurs when regular tissue is stressed and overworked to a point that it develops into the nodule.  Normal muscle tissue is comprised of fibers that run parallel to each other and slide against each other when a muscle contracts or relaxes.  If the fibers don’t run parallel, then that’s when you start to run into problems.  The “wrinkled” fibers then become difficult to slide, and lose their elasticity and their ability to contract and relax normally.

Trigger points are best worked on manually.  Just like an iron gets rid of wrinkles in a shirt, mechanical pressure and soft tissue mobilization techniques can get rid of trigger points.  Furthermore, pressure in combination to stretching and/or isometric contraction appears to be the best treatment of trigger points.  I’ve talked about soft tissue mobilization before and posture correction tips, but trigger points need a little bit more.

First, find your trigger point.  You’ll know when you find it, it feels like a knot or tight band and when you apply pressure on it with your fingers, you start to feel more pain that may radiate to other surrounding areas.  From here, it gets more painful, but try and bear with it.  Keep up the pressure, maintain your finger pressure on the area of muscle and try and stretch it.  Finally, you can add some isometric contractions by flexing the muscle under your fingers without moving it.  Try and hold this pressured, contracted position for as long as you can tolerate it, and then move into the stretch position again.   Repeat this process several times for 2-4 minutes.

That may seem like a lot to remember.  But don’t worry, try it out and see how you feel afterwards.  It may be painful during all that, but it should feel better afterwards.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit us.


Image courtesy of sixninepixels / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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