Trigger Point Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Trigger Points?
"Trigger points" are areas of cells in the muscle that are locked in a dysfunctional cycle – blood flow has been reduced, and metabolic wastes are not being exchanged for oxygen and nutrients. If enough trigger points are located together, these form the "knots" that you can feel when they are being pressed.
What is Referred Pain?
Trigger points may refer pain both in the local area and/or to other areas of the body, and the most common patterns have been well documented and diagrammed. These are called referral patterns. Approximately half of the time, trigger points are not located in the same place where you feel symptoms. This means that if you only work on the areas where you feel pain, you probably won’t get relief. In our books and samples, you’ll find illustrations of common pain referral patterns that you can compare with where you feel pain, and this will help you figure out where the common trigger point or points causing your pain are located. Unless you know that you need to search in that location, you probably won’t resolve your pain. For example, trigger points in the upper portion of the trapezius muscle (between the neck and the shoulder) can cause headache or migraine pain in the temples, the base of the skull, in the angle of the jaw, and possibly above the ear and over the eye. See the Trapezius CD-ROM Chapter Sample.
What Causes Trigger Points?
Trigger points may form after a sudden trauma or injury, or they may develop gradually. Common initiating and perpetuating factors are mechanical stresses, injuries, nutritional problems, emotional factors, sleep problems, acute or chronic infections, organ dysfunction and disease, and other medical conditions. To get long-term relief from trigger points, you need to eliminate the perpetuating factors that cause and keep trigger points activated. Both books contain extensive sections on identifying and resolving these crucial perpetuating factors.
What Happens When You Leave Trigger Points Untreated?
When people first develop some kind of pain problem, they usually wait to see if it will go away. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. The problem with "waiting to see" is that when trigger points are left untreated, muscles can be damaged, and eventually changes to the central nervous system can lead to a vicious cycle of pain.
What are Trigger Point Self-Help Techniques?
You can easily treat trigger points yourself by applying pressure using your hands, laying on a ball (such as a tennis ball), or using a tool such as a Backnobber®. Gentle stretches also help. Both books available on this website guide you through these safe, effective techniques to lead you to .