Ask Hina: How do Trigger Points Cause Referred Pain?

neck pain

A trigger point is a spasmed part of a muscle that can create pain on touch or cause referred pain outside of the trigger point location. Referred pain from trigger points means that you might feel the symptoms in another part of your body that seems unrelated. For example, a trigger point in your upper trapezius might be causing headaches.

What causes trigger points?

When a muscle is healthy, there is a gliding that occurs between muscle fibers to contract and lengthen a muscle. When a trigger point develops, muscle fibers clump together and spasm. The trigger point constricts the flow of blood to that area, which causes the area to become increasingly irritated and cause pain locally on touch.

Referred Pain: Trigger Points as the Culprit Behind Unexplained Pain

Many times, patients present with pain symptoms that seemingly have no cause. Often times, the culprit behind this unexplained pain is referred pain from trigger points in other areas of the body.

A severe trigger point can cause the pain to move outside the area. Some frequent examples of referred pain from trigger points include:

  • *Trigger points in the upper trapezius cause pain in the head, tension headaches or shoulder blade pain
  • *Trigger points in the shoulder blade cause pain in the back of the arm, shoulder or chest
  • *Trigger points in the gluteal area make it feel like you have sciatic symptoms, low back pain or tailbone pain

Sometimes referred pain from trigger points is so severe it feels like it’s coming from an internal organ. The abdominal muscles, gluteal muscles and pelvic floor muscles can all develop trigger points. Active trigger points in these muscle groups can make it feel like you are having pain in your bladder, uterus, ovaries or rectum.

Trigger Point Release and Treatment

Trigger points are usually due to an imbalance. In addition to deactivating the trigger points, t’s important to address any alignment issues to prevent the trigger point from developing again in the future.

If you are experiencing symptoms from a trigger point, click here to schedule a complimentary phone consultation to discuss your symptoms with one of our therapists.

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