Myofascial trigger points and pain.

TP’s were first brought to the attention of the medical world by Dr. Janet G. Travell. Dr. Travell, physician to President John F. Kennedy, is the acknowledged Mother of Myofascial Trigger Points. In fact, “Trigger Point massage, the most effective modality used by massage therapists for the relief of pain, is based almost entirely on Dr. Travell’s insights.”2 Dr. Travell’s partner in her research was Dr. David G. Simons, a research scientist and aerospace physician.

Trigger Points are very common. In fact, Travell and Simons state that TP’s are responsible for, or associated with, 75% of pain complaints or conditions.1 With this kind of prevalence, it’s no wonder that TP’s are often referred to as the “scourge of mankind”.

Trigger Points can produce a wide variety of pain complaints. Some of the most common are migraine headaches, back pain, and pain and tingling into the extremities. They are usually responsible for most cases of achy deep pain that is hard to localize.

A TP will refer pain in a predictable pattern, based on its location in a given muscle. Also, since these spots are bundles of contracted muscle fibres, they can cause stiffness and a decreased range of motion. Chronic conditions with many TP’s can also cause general fatigue and malaise, as well as muscle weakness.

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Trigger points in the upper traps.

One of the most common issues that I treat on a daily basis is trigger points in the upper traps. The trapezius muscle or “traps” is a large diamond shaped muscle located in you back and neck. The upper portion of this muscle is one on the most common areas to become strained due to poor posture or emotional stress. When this

happens trigger points are sure to develop. These points will cause pain to be felt up the neck, behind the ear, and traveling to the temple. Trigger points in the upper traps are one of the most common causes of headache pain, as well as a stiff neck.

Causes of a stiff neck.

The levator scapulae muscle is located in your neck. It is responsible for raising your shoulder blade up to your ear, as well as side flexion of the neck. Trigger points develop in this muscle commonly due to poor posture, and stress holding patterns. Once developed these trigger points will cause a deep achy pain and stiffness in the neck.

Piriformis syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is caused by a tight contracted piriformis muscle putting pressure on the sciatic nerve causing symptoms of tingling, numbness, and altered sensation. This muscle is often tight in people who sit for long periods of time. A common cause of this muscle being contracted and tight are trigger points. These trigger points are contracted knots within the belly of the muscle. These knots cause the muscle to become shortened. Trigger points will also cause pain on their own. This is usually felt as a deep achy pain in the glute and hip area, as well as in the back of the leg.

Trigger points and headaches

One of the most common sources of headache pain is trigger points in the neck muscles. These muscles are often overloaded from poor posture such as sitting in front of a computer or looking down at you phone for long periods of time. Trigger points that form in the upper traps are the most common trigger points in the body. They refer pain up the neck, behind the ear into the temple. The suboccipital muscles refer pain deep into the skull behind the eye. Sternocleidomastoid trigger points will refer pain to the top of the head and around the orbit of the eye. Trigger points need to be manually released to be resolved.

Myofascial pain syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome is caused by a stimulus, such as muscle tightness, that sets off trigger points in your muscles. Factors that may increase your risk of muscle

trigger points include:

  • Muscle injury. An acute muscle injury or continual muscle stress may lead to the development of trigger points. For example, a spot within or near a strained muscle may become a trigger point. Repetitive motions and poor posture also may increase your risk.
  • Stress and anxiety. People who frequently experience stress and anxiety may be more likely to develop trigger points in their muscles. One theory holds that these people may be more likely to clench their muscles, a form of repeated strain that leaves muscles susceptible to trigger point