A myofascial trigger point is a localized area of extreme tenderness found within a muscle and can be termed myofascial pain. The area of tenderness is caused by an increase in muscle activity that results in a small sustained muscle contraction. After some time, a taut band develops that will not willingly relax. Trigger points are referred to as active when they cause noticeable pain without provocation, while latent trigger points elicit pain only when palpated or stretched.
While the research into the cause of trigger points is not definitive, many precipitating factors are associated with their onset. Trigger points may be due to muscle overload, direct or indirect trauma, sustained shortening, or radiculopathy. Other possible causes include arthritis, joint dysfunction, emotional stress or other pre-existing trigger points. Trigger points are often aggravate by poor posture, repetitive motion or nutritional deficits.
Trigger points often cause pain, inhibit muscle function, and can decrease strength. Pain is either localized to the area of the trigger point or referred to other areas. The symptoms combined with any muscle weakness and/or decreased range of motion, results in altered movement patterns and impaired function. Therefore, treatment of these is essential to decrease pain, increase strength and range of motion, and improve movement and functioning.
Several manual therapy techniques are commonly used to treat trigger points including passive stretching and myofascial release through digital ischemic pressure and active release techniques, which can result in a reduction in symptoms. However, these modalities are often painful and the trigger point can continue to persist. Dry needling, a westernised version of acupuncture, is another technique that can be an effective procedure for releasing trigger points. Dry needling is often performed in conjunction with these other techniques. By using filament needles, therapists can manipulate and release deeper muscles which are difficult to reach using other techniques.
At Refitt we take a hands on approach to the treatment of Myofascial Trigger Points by utilising the manual therapy techniques described above as well as dry needling. A regular deep tissue sports massage can also help with the management and reduction of more difficult to treat trigger points as well as staying physically active to help improve posture and mobility.
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