Trigger points, maybe you already know what it is, maybe you don’t.
I mentioned this word “trigger points”, also called Myofascial Trigger Points or “muscle knots”, several times in a previous blog. But what are those, trigger points?
Trigger points are painful hardening in the muscles that no longer relax. They can appear in every muscle in your body.
A muscle consists of many small muscle fibers.
Almost everyone has once had cramps in their calves or feet. At that moment, the whole muscle cramps.
But it is also possible that only a muscle fiber in the muscle cramps. That is then a micro-cramp, or a trigger point.
Because a muscle has multiple muscle fibers in one muscle, multiple muscle fibers in one muscle may have micro-cramps.
Such micro-cramping feels like a small hardening in the muscle, often about the size of a pea or pinhead.
When there is such a micro cramping or trigger point in such a muscle fiber, it stretches the rest of this muscle fiber.
Think of it as a string-shaped rubber band. You hold in both hands one end of this rubber band. Then you tie a knot in the middle of the elastic band and grab it again with both hands. It will now be more difficult to keep the hands exactly the same distance apart as before. This is because of the knot which pulls the rubber band at both ends because it is shortened and the rest of the rubber band (muscle fiber) must now stretch to get the same distance between both hands as before.
You can often feel such tight muscle fibers in your muscle as a tight strand of muscle tissue, it feels a bit like a thin tendon.
The more muscle fibers in a certain muscle have these micro-cramps/trigger points, the tighter the muscle is. You often feel that your muscle feels hard and tight.
How does such a trigger point arise?
In my previous blog I already talked extensively about what is one of the very biggest causes of trigger points. But here are a few more possible causers and/or triggers:
– unfavorable use of muscles
– wrong position or movement pattern of joints
– overload & fatigue
– an accident (e.g. whiplash)
– underload such as a cast or a sedentary profession
– bad breathing
– unhealthy diet
– poor living environment
– presence of other trigger points
The body has a GIANT self-healing ability and will generally recover quickly in all these cases, for example by taking a rest, removing the overload or adjusting your diet. These complaints will generally never last longer than 6 to 12 weeks at the latest.
BUT when your nervous system is overactive or disturbed by, among other things, unconsciously suppressing emotions (about which I told you more in a previous blog), this can cause the complaints to become chronic. AND therefore also be maintained because this unconscious suppression of emotions is not addressed. And this is really the case with most people with chronic pain complaints. That is why physical treatment methods often relieve or remedy only briefly.
So the formation of trigger points are somewhere in the middle of the chain of reactions that take place when pain complaints arise:
The threat (e.g. unconscious suppressed emotions that threaten to come to the conscious) -> the tension on the nervous system increases -> more tension on the connective tissue (fascia) -> disturbed balance between pull- and pressing loads of the various structures (such as muscles, tendons, connective tissue, bones) in the body -> poorly functioning joints or organs –> formation of trigger points –> narrowing of blood vessels (vasoconstriction) –> poorer blood flow –> less nutrients –> less oxygen –> energy crisis, production of pain- and waste substances –> decrease pH value (it becomes more acidic) –> more sensitive nerve endings –> more quickly pain / tension –> extra ‘protective’ activity nervous system –> again increase tension nervous system etc.
That also means that just treating trigger points will NOT solve the WHOLE problem. So the trigger points are coming back every time.
BUT treating trigger points can provide TEMPORARY relief. (only the people who follow or have followed a Pain-Free Reset Program with me are NOT allowed to do this anymore and they also know and understand why, so if you read this as a client; I warn you! ?)
Treating trigger points, like many other physical treatment methods, is a good temporary solution but usually does not give a long-lasting result. If you look at the above clearly presented development of pain complaints, you can conclude that almost all these physical treatment methods have their effect somewhere in the middle of the entire chain of reactions that take place. But most practitioners don’t do anything with all those prior steps. It is not just out of the blue that there are still around 5 million (!!!) people in the Netherlands with chronic pain!
What are the symptoms of trigger points?
When you press on a triggerpoint this is painful. This can be mild pain or heavy pain to where you can barely touch it.
The most characteristic of trigger points is that they radiate pain to another place in the body.
For example: if you have low back pain, this can come from trigger points in your glutes, abs and even… yes really… from your calf muscles. So just treating your back often does not give the desired result, because you have not treated the trigger points in those areas.
In addition, another characteristic of trigger points is that the pain can sometimes jump to another place.
Here are some of the symptoms you might experience when you have trigger points:
– when you press on such a point you feel a local, deep pain.
– continuous pain, even without pressure on the trigger point
– radiating pain
– sharper pain when moving
– a palpable knot sometimes in combination with a hardened strand
– movement restriction
– decreased muscle strength
– pinching of nerves or blood vessels
– tingling, irritation
– hyper sensitivity
Active trigger points are often the culprit for causing pain and other symptoms in these diagnoses:
– Achilles tendonitis
– sinus infection
– Carpal tunnel syndrome
– compartment syndrome
– frozen shoulder
– herniated disc
– heel spur
– ringing in the ears/tinnitus
– tendon sheath inflammation
– peripheral neuropathy
– piriformis syndrome
– restless legs
– shin splints
– tennis arm
– golf elbow
– and much more! Trigger points can occur anywhere in the body, so can cause back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, headache, jaw pain, arm pain, leg pain, hip pain, trunk pain, chest pain, abdominal pain, foot pain etc etc.
When I started treating my trigger points in my own pain period in 2013, my pain reduced really drastically! BUT what I also found out was that it only helped temporarily, like all those other treatment methods… But it was the very best thing I had found so far after trying so much for 3 years. And I couldn’t understand that NO ONE had pointed this out to me! That’s why I’m pointing it out to you now. And because there were so few practitioners who offered this, I retrained myself and started offering this treatment myself. First only treating the trigger points, so regularly with only a temporary result. Later and now fully customized programs that include all causes that may be the cause of these trigger points, so that the pain really goes away permanantly.
And in this case, the trigger points no longer need to be treated! Because the cause for the origin of the trigger points is removed, the trigger points disappear automatically!
So if you are looking for a temporary solution for your pain and do not intend to become permanently pain-free, treating trigger points is an excellent solution. How long does it illuminate? Well for one it is a few hours, for the other a few days, for the other a few weeks, for the other a few months…
But if you really want to get rid of your pain permanently and thus want to prevent the trigger points and your pain from coming back every time, much more is needed to eliminate exactly all the causes, which causes trigger points and pain in your body in the first place. Trigger points are a result, they are not the cause. Treating trigger points is a symptom control, not a cause control. Trigger points have a function. The body actually forms these to protect against further damage or pain in the body, so when you remove these trigger points, without removing the cause of the occurrence of these trigger points, you remove the natural protective response from the body!
Because as mentioned above, one of the main causes of trigger points is unconscious suppression of emotions!
So when nothing helps, not even treating trigger points, then you know there is more to it!