Trigger points are tight muscle knots that build due to stress and tension in the body. The theory behind trigger point therapy is that waste products accumulate in small areas of muscle surrounding nerve receptors, which causes what feels like stiff bands. These “trigger points” cause muscle tension and pain and may even cause “referred pain,” which is when you feel pain in one part of your body, but it is actually caused by a trigger point located elsewhere.
Also called myofascial trigger points, they usually form after stress or injury to a muscle, creating increased sensitivity in the area. They may be a cause of chronic stiffness and pain in various parts of the body, sometimes even years after the original injury. Any muscle in the body can harbor trigger points.
When a muscle is injured, a muscle spasm is created, allowing waste products to accumulate. Muscle injury may be caused either by an acute trauma such as lifting something too heavy, or may gradually develop from chronic muscle use, such as using the computer every day.
Because trigger points refer pain to other muscles in the body, the referred areas of pain may in turn create their own trigger points, creating a sort of domino effect. “Latent” trigger points don’t hurt unless pressed; however, if these are not dispersed they can cause problems as we age, such as increased stiffness and limited range of motion. It is important for you to visit Dr. Kauf to have these areas assessed and dealt with sooner rather than later.
Trigger points may remain inactive in the body for years, then be awakened by either physical trauma to the muscle or emotional stress. If there are a number of trigger points in a small area of muscle, even a minor strain or injury can awaken this group of trigger points, causing more pain than would be apparent from the minor injury.
Trigger point pain may be variable, becoming worse when resting and better when the area is gently stretched. They can trap nerves, leading to a variety of neurological symptoms such as tingling, pins and needles, feeling hot or cold, etc. They can also cause seemingly unrelated symptoms such as nausea, loss of balance, or blurred vision.
Dr. Kauf uses trigger point therapy in the course of chiropractic care to diffuse the trigger point, releasing the tense muscle and dispersing the accumulated waste products. To do this, he the locates the trigger point, applies pressure for a number of seconds, then releases, repeating this once more on the same point. He can also advise you on some techniques you can use at home to help relieve some of the pain trigger points may cause.
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