Our first new patient orientation/ triggerpoint class was held on June 27th. Interest in attending was expressed on the part of new patients as well as our existing patient population. Perhaps you wanted to attend, but your schedule just wouldn’t allow it. We realize that there could have been many different reasons why you couldn’t attend the event so that’s why this article was written.
So what exactly are trigger points? A simplistic way to describe a trigger point is a “muscle knot”. It can be felt as a raised portion to a muscle. It feels like a lump or bump in the muscle. They can range in size depending on severity from the size of a pea to a golf ball. When pressure is applied to a trigger point it will “ache” or feel “tender to the touch”. It can also create what is called a referral pattern which will be discussed below.
So how do these nasty knots develop? Good question! They can be caused by overuse of a muscle as in those people with jobs where certain motions happen over and over on a daily basis. Machinist, mechanics, dental hygienists, athletes and painters are a few examples of people who report the signs and symptoms caused by trigger points. Trigger points often develop insidiously. As a result they often go unnoticed until they are compressed. Your chiropractor is usually the one to find them as they are thoroughly trained in the detection and correction of trigger points.
Next up are the types of trigger points: active and latent. Both of these types can produce what is called a trigger point referral pattern.
A latent trigger point is the first type to form. This type is one in which is not detected until pressure is applied to the muscle. At which point it may cause a sensation of tenderness or even elicit what is called a “jump sign”. A “jump sign” is an involuntary contraction of the muscle when a trigger point is compressed. If a latent trigger point is present long enough it may develop into an active trigger point.
An active trigger point is where tenderness can perceived by the person when they actively engage a specific muscle. A person with a trigger point in the upper shoulder and neck may notice that it hurts when they cradle the phone on their shoulder for example. Here they are actively contracting the muscle to hold the phone in position.
Both types can produce what is called a referral pattern. Simply put, a referral pattern is an area of vague pain which is perceived to be distinct and separate from the area where the trigger point is. One common example is a trapezius trigger point which can cause a referral of pain which goes up the neck, wraps around the head to just above the eye. This is a common presentation seen in our office which can mimic a headache. Trigger points in the lower back can also refer pain into the buttock area. It is important to note that this pain is distinct from the pain felt from sciatica and other conditions. Your chiropractor is well trained in musculoskeletal diagnosis and can help here.
Last, I will go over a basic at home treatment strategy to help you through until your next chiropractic appointment. While you are pushing around in their muscle simply ask your partner to tell you when they feel a sore spot. You may also elicit a jump sign which will let you know a trigger point has been found. Start with some moist heat on the area for about ten minutes. Then you can lightly press on or massage the area for your partner. Be careful not to press on an area for more than five seconds at a time so as to avoid any undue irritation. Be careful not to use too much pressure as that can actually make a trigger point worse. It is always best to start soft and if your partner reports relief when done then you are on the right track.
Essential Oil Make-&-Take Workshop
Dr. Marinaccio will be hosting a DIY essential oil make-and-take workshop on Wednesday, August 15th. Please check back on our Facebook page and the August newsletter for more details.