A trigger point forms when a muscle is injured or stressed and is a hyper-irritable spot which can cause significant pain. You may be familiar with this if you have applied pressure to a specific spot in a muscle and felt a knot form. Trigger points vary in size and can be described as a 'small lump', 'little peas', 'large lumps' or 'rope like bands lying next to each other'. Trigger points are usually caused by the following:
Trigger points can refer pain to other muscles, so one trigger point can create pain in another muscle. This is why many people report tension in their upper shoulders/neck when they are stressed. The upper trapezius trigger points can refer pain to the base of the skull, around the ear and to the temple. If you are feeling a headache which feels as if it is at the back of your eye, it could be from a muscle at the top of your shoulder!
There are two phases of trigger points - Active and Latent. Active TP is painful when pressed and causes pain in the surrounding muscles. It can cause a dull, deep burning pain or a numbness and fatigued feeling. Latent or inactive trigger points can develop anywhere in the body and lie quietly within a muscle. They are not too painful and do not cause any referred pain. However, they can cause restrictive movement, distorted muscle movement patterns and stiffness within the muscle.
Trigger point therapy applies direct pressure to the area, which reduces tension and pain. It alters the chemical reaction and causes the muscle to spasm.