Trigger points, often known as “muscle knots” are a very common cause of pain. A trigger point is an area of sensitivity in the soft tissue, which is tender to touch and pressure. These can be manipulated to decrease pain. Trigger points are hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle; the muscle fibers become taut and create a tender, palpable nodule. Pain frequently radiates from the trigger point to broader areas of the body, sometimes distant from the trigger point itself. The radiation of pain to other parts of the body is called ‘referred pain’.
Trigger Point Release
Trigger points can be manipulated to decrease pain and provide instant relief. Many providers, including physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists can use soft tissue manipulation and stretching techniques to release active trigger points. Physical therapists can additionally use dry needling techniques to eliminate trigger points. Providers are also able to inject anesthetic medication into a trigger point to manage trigger point dysfunction.
Myofascial release is a manual soft tissue therapy used to treat pain and improve range of motion. The restricted tissues are manipulated to promote normal sliding and gliding movements of muscles and fascia. Relaxing restricted tissues promotes increased circulation and allows stimulation of the muscles and fascia.
The goal of direct myofascial release is to stretch the restricted fascia by applying force. Direct release can change the underlying structures by mobilizing adhesive tissues and reaching deep tissues. Many patients experience pain relief after trigger point manipulation.