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More about myofascial trigger point

"Many researchers agree that acute trauma or repetitive micro-trauma may lead to the development of a trigger point. Lack of exercise, prolonged poor posture, vitamin deficiencies, sleep disturbances and joint problems may all predispose to the development of micro-trauma."

David J. Alvarez, D.O., and Pamela G. Rockwell, D.O. for the American Family Physician

How Trigger Points are Formed

The damage to muscle and connective tissue which results in trigger points can occur several ways. It can happen as the result of:

Repetitive overuse injuries (using the same body parts in the same way hundreds of times on a daily basis) from activities such as typing/mousing, handheld electronics, gardening, home improvement projects, work environments, etc.

Sustained loading as with heavy lifting, carrying babies, briefcases, boxes, wearing body armor or lifting bedridden patients.

Habitually poor posture due to our sedentary lifestyles, de-conditioning and poorly designed furniture

Muscle clenching and tensing due to mental/emotional stress.

Direct injury such as a blow, strain, break, twist or tear. Think car accidents, sports injuries, falling down stairs and the like.

Surprisingly, trigger points can even develop due to inactivity such as prolonged bed rest or sitting.

The damage to muscle and connective tissue which results in trigger points can occur several ways. It can happen as the result of:

Surprisingly, trigger points can even develop due to inactivity such as prolonged bed rest or sitting.

Active Trigger Points Cause Pain

After forming, trigger points have two phases, active and latent. The active, painful phase of the trigger point is the one which produces the unrelenting, debilitating pain symptoms and which motivates people to seek relief. The active trigger point hurts when pressed with a finger and causes pain around it and in other areas. It causes the muscle in which it's located to be weak and due to the taut bands, to have limited flexibility. The active trigger point referral symptom may feel like a dull ache, deep, pressing pain, burning, or a sensation of numbness and fatigue. It can also cause sweating, tearing of eyes, goosebumps and dizziness. The affected dense, shortened muscles, laden with taut bands may even compress and entrap nerves, leading to another secondary set of symptoms. If unaddressed or ineffectively treated, eventually, other muscles around the dysfunctional one may be required to "take up the slack", becoming stressed and developing secondary trigger points. It is not unusual for chronic pain patients to have multiple, overlapping referred pain patterns, making diagnosis and treatment more complex. It is easy to see why this widespread pain is often mistaken for Fibromyalgia - a related but separate diagnosis.

Latent Trigger Points Matter Too

Trigger points can also lie quietly in muscles, sometimes for years. This type of trigger point is called latent. Latent trigger points are very common. Unless you press on the trigger point and feel the tenderness, you probably don't know they are there. Most people have at least a few. Latent trigger points may persist for years after apparent recovery from injury. Latent trigger points cause:

Restricted movement

Distorted muscle movement patterns

Stiffness and weakness of the affected muscle

They generally do not cause pain unless compressed. Many things can cause a trigger point to become active. An old injury that periodically re-surfaces (that "trick knee" or low back "going out") may very likely be due to latent trigger points "waking up" and becoming active when aggravated by muscle overload, a cold draft, fatigue, infection, illness, or stress.

 

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