What is a Trigger Point?

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The term trigger point was first coined by the American Physician Janet G. Travell. She became the first female personal physician to an American President after helping to relieve John F. Kennedy’s back pain. She has also written many papers and books on the subject of trigger points, and are considered by many to be the most detailed and important writings on the subject, to date.

What is a Trigger Point?

Trigger PointsTrigger points (also known as muscle knots) are tender areas you can feel in your muscles and can develop when muscles are injured or overused. These points not only affect the muscles where they are located, but also create a pattern of pain in other soft tissue. We all experience these pesky little tender or sore spots at sometime or another. For a few people these knots are associated with a huge amount of pain and discomfort. You will most commonly feel trigger points in your shoulders and backs, but can also experience them anywhere on your body. 

Types of Trigger Points

There are several types of Trigger Points which include: potential, active/latent, and key/satellites.

There are more than 620 potential trigger points possible in your body’s muscles. These points, when they become active or latent, show up in the same places in the muscles in every person. Because of this, trigger point maps can easily be made that are accurate for everyone.

An active trigger point is one that may radiate, or refers pain to other areas of the body. These knots can cause muscle weakness and restrict range of motion. Latent trigger points are ones that do not refer the pain to other areas of the body, and are only painful under pressure.

A key trigger point is one that has a pain referral pattern found along a nerve pathway that activates, or creates a latent trigger point. A satellite trigger point is one that is activated by a key trigger point. Treating the key trigger point will often resolve the satellite.

Causes of Trigger Points

Trigger points are caused by muscle spasms that may be initiated by a number of causes including:

  • direct trauma
  • exposure to cold
  • overuse of a muscle group
  • posture
  • nutritional deficiencies

A few, everyday things we do that can create irritation include:

  • Holding a phone between your ear and shoulder
  • Carrying a heavy purse on your shoulder
  • Sleeping on your side

Treatment of Trigger Points

Many different methods of treatment have been devised over the years to treat the tender spots, including massage, acupuncture, and Botox injections. Since trigger points are located within the muscle, it is my recommendation to treat the pain with a deep tissue massage.

During a deep tissue massage, I will apply gentle pressure to the trigger point, causing it to relax and release, thus breaking the muscle spasm cycle. The pressure will be applied to the affected area for several seconds and may feel sore, however, this soreness will subside when the pressure is released. During your session, the trigger point may be worked on several times, and at the end of your session, the muscles will be stretched to promote relaxation.

Let Me Help You!

So if you’ve had a nagging pain or pressure in your shoulders or neck and would like to have some relief due to the trigger point, schedule your massage today. If you have questions for me, don’t hesitate to call 835-964-5215 or email what to expect or are uncomfortable getting a massage, I have a few articles that will help to ease your mind and give you a taste of what a normal massage session is like.