Trigger points in the trapezius muscle.

The trapezius muscle is a large diamond shaped muscle in your back and neck. It originates on the nuchal ligament and the spinous processes of c6-t12. It inserts on the scapular spine, acromion process, and the distal clavicle. It’s upper fibres act to elevate the shoulder and rotate the glenoid fossa upward. The lower fibres assist this motion. The middle fibres strongly adduct the scapula. This is the most common muscle in the human body to get trigger points. Trigger points in the lateral upper edge refer pain into the lateral neck and temples. Points in the mid and lower parts of the muscle refer pain into the posterior neck and shoulders. Trigger points in this muscle are a common cause of headaches.

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Problems associated with trigger points

Trigger Points in muscle and other soft tissue are one of the most common causes of a wide variety of pain and dysfunction, including (but not limited to):

• Achy persistent pain
• Severe local pain
• Arm / leg pain
• Back pain
• Radiating pain
• Weakness
• Stiffness

• Pain resulting from a medical condition, such as
– Migraines
– Sciatica
– TMJ dysfunctions
– Arthritis
– Fibromyalgia
– Carpal tunnel syndrome
– Soft tissue injuries
– And more…

Trigger points in the levator scapula

The levator scapula is a muscle located in your neck. It originates on the transverse processes of C1-C4 vertebrae. It inserts on the superior part of the medial border of the scapula. This muscle acts to elevate the scapula and rotate the glenoid fossa downward. At the cervical attachment it acts to rotate the neck to the same side and assists extension. Trigger points will refer pain into the angle of the neck with spillover into the scapula. When this muscle is tight due to trigger points it will restrict neck rotation causing the classic stiff neck. With a forward head position this muscle often becomes stretched and over worked.

Trigger points in the lateral pterygoid muscle

The Lateral Pterygoid muscle is a muscle of the jaw. It originates on the greater wing of the sphenoid bone and the lateral pterygoid plate. It has its insertion on the condyloid process of the mandible. Functionally it it assists in opening the jaw by pulling the head of the mandibular condyle out of the mandibular fossa. Trigger points in this muscle refer pain into the temporal mandibular joint and maxillary sinus. Trigger points in this muscle are often the cause of pain felt from TMJ dysfunction.

I’m getting old Doc… Getting old….

Your lumbar spine (low back) is made up of 5 individual vertebrae stacked on top of a bone called the “sacrum”. To allow for flexibility and movement, there is a cushion or “disc” in between each level. As we age, these discs can wear and become thinner over time. This leads to additional changes, including bone spurs and narrowing of the opening where your nerves exit your spine.

This process is called “lumbar spondylosis”, or simply, “arthritis”. This problem most commonly involves the vertebra at the very base of your spine, which bear the highest loads.

Lumbar arthritis is exceptionally common, affecting people as young as 20 and becoming extremely likely by age 70. How quickly you develop low back arthritis is largely a trait you inherited from your parents. Other factors may play a role, including a history of trauma, smoking, operating motorized vehicles, being overweight and/ or performing repetitive movements (i.e. lifting, twisting, bending or sitting). Men seem to be affected slightly more often than women.

Symptoms often begin as back and buttock pain that gradually worsens over time. Stiffness may be present upon arising in the morning. Pain is relieved by rest or light activity and aggravated by strenuous work. Sometimes your nerves can become “pinched” in narrowed openings where they exit your spine. This can cause “sciatica” which results in pain, numbness, or tingling radiating into your leg along the path of the irritated nerve. Be sure to tell your doctor if you notice any weakness or if you have fever, abdominal pain, change in bowel or bladder function, or pain in your groin crease.

Arthritic changes can be seen on x-rays, but interestingly, the amount of wearing does not seem to correlate directly with the severity of your symptoms. People with the same degree of arthritis may have symptoms ranging from none to severe. Most researchers believe that the symptoms of osteoarthritis are not the direct result of the disease, but rather, from the conditions that preceded the disease and those that develop subsequent to it, like joint restrictions and muscle tightness. Fortunately, those conditions are treatable and our office has a variety of tools to help relieve your pain.

In general, you should avoid repeated lifting and twisting and take frequent breaks from prolonged sitting, especially in motorized vehicles. Avoid any position that causes an increase in radiating pain. Low-impact activities, like walking, stationary cycling, water aerobics, and yoga may be helpful.

Trigger points and fibromyalgia

Myofascial pain syndrome (trigger points) and fibromyalgia are often confused to be the same condition and while there is a lot of interrelatedness between the two they are not quite identical. The clinical definition of a trigger point is “a hyper irritable spot associated within a taut band of skeletal muscle that is painful on compression or muscle contraction, and usually responds with a referred pain pattern distant from the spot”. Trigger points form from an overload trauma to the muscle tissue. This is contrasted with fibromyalgia which is defined as “a medical condition characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure. Other symptoms include tiredness to a degree that normal activities are affected, sleep problems and troubles with memory. Some people also report restless leg syndrome, bowel and bladder problems, numbness and tingling and sensitivity to noise, lights and temperature. It is also associated with depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder”. Fibromyalgia will also present with localized tender points which are often mistaken for trigger points. Where these two conditions become somewhat interrelated is via the nervous system. Fibromyalgia patients suffer from a super-sensitization of the nervous system causing hyperirritability and pain. Myofascial trigger points can be caused by,or be the cause of, super sensitization. An active trigger point will irritate the sensory nerves around it eventually leading to super-sensitization. Trigger points have also been showed to form of become active due to super-sensitization. Both of these conditions can perpetuate the other, leading to layers of pain and symptoms. This being the case, trigger point therapy can have a very positive effect on decreasing the severity of pain and symptoms in patients suffering from fibromyalgia.

Trigger points in the adductor longus and brevis.

These muscles are located in the groin. The longus originates on the pubic body just below the pubic crest and inserts on the middle third of the linea aspera.The brevis muscle originates on the inferior ramus and body of the pubis and has its attachment to the lesser trochanter and linea aspera of the femur. Trigger points in these muscles are the most common muscular cause of groin pain. Distal trigger points refer pain to the upper medial knee and down the tibia. Proximal trigger points refer into the anterior hip area.