Trigger points are knots that develop within the tissue of a muscle that can cause radiating or referred pain in the neck, back, shoulder, or other parts of the body. The pain from a trigger point may be dull or it may be sharp and stabbing, depending on the location and size.
When a muscle fails to relax and is not able to stretch, trigger points will begin to develop within the muscle. Trigger points may be caused by any number of reasons including stress, inflammation, injury or poor posture.
If you are not able to visit your physician and get a trigger point injection, you may be able to work out the knot with self-massage of the trigger point. Follow these steps.
- Start by finding the trigger point on your body. When you hit a spot that is very tender and feels hard, you have likely found it.
- Begin with a gentle massage of the area surrounding the trigger point. This is a good warm up and helps reduce tension in the area. Do this for 2-3 minutes.
- Now using your fingertips, thumb, fist or elbow, find your trigger point once again and put pressure right on the top of the knot. This spot may be painful.
- Using pressure, push down on the trigger point and hold this for 10-20 second. If the trigger point moves around, follow it and try to keep it still. Make sure your pain threshold does not go above a 7.
- When you are done, give the area another quick gentle massage in the surrounding areas.
- This process can be repeated up to half a dozen times per day.
If the pain from the trigger point is too much to handle, do not force yourself. That is a sign that you should seek assistance from a physician.
If you are able to visit an orthopaedic doctor, they may offer to give you a trigger point injection. These injections work as “ischemic massage” and help the patient have some pain relief for days or weeks because it stops the tension from returning into the muscles.