What are Trigger Points?
A trigger point is a knot of muscle that forms in the fascia often as a result of trauma or tension. The fascia is a layer of protective tissue that covers the musculoskeletal system, including muscles and organs. When a trigger point becomes tight, pain frequently develops. In many situations, the knotted muscle surrounding a trigger point can be felt under the skin.
When a trigger point develops the pain may be localized to the area of the knotted muscle, or may be referred, meaning it can develop at another location that is seemingly unrelated. The development of referred pain can makes diagnoses difficult.
Trigger points are often caused by:
- Repeated strain on muscles and bones
- Injury or trauma
- Poor posture
- Physical and psychological stress
The Location of Trigger Points
There are more than 600 potential trigger points in the human body. Most commonly, trigger points will develop in one of these four regions:
- Head, neck and shoulders
- Arms and hands
- Legs and feet
- Torso, chest and abdomen
Trigger points are considered spots of extreme tenderness and sensitivity. They are made of a combination of muscle, fascia and connective tissue. When trigger points develop, the fascia bunches up to protect the damaged muscle and connective tissue. Pain from trigger points is often called fascia tension.
Trigger Point Injections
Trigger point injections (TPI) are a common pain management method that addresses areas of fascia tension by injecting pain relieving medication into the targeted location. Trigger point injections are completed in a simple in-office procedure. The injections require a small needle that is painlessly inserted directly into the affected area.
When trigger points develop they cause the fascia to form into a small ball. Trigger point injections allow manual release of the tension in the fascia by a skilled osteopath.
The trigger point solution contains a numbing agent that provides immediate pain relief, as well as other ingredients that are commonly customized to the individual. Trigger point injections commonly contain lidocaine and procaine which provide immediate pain relief and allow further injections and manipulation without discomfort. The injections interfere with the neuro-somatic pathway that triggers the constant signaling of the pain mechanism.
A single trigger point injection can provide ongoing pain relief for up to four weeks. By addressing the cause of the pain and making recommended behavioral changes, it is possible to entirely overcome pain through trigger point therapy.