Have you ever received a massage and been told you have knots? And they hurt when they are pressed? Or you have a vague pain in your arm, leg, or face but can’t pinpoint the source? What is the Deal?!!
You’re more than likely suffering from musculoskeletal pain referred to as a trigger point (often interchangeable with knots). As a physical therapist and massage therapist, I hear these complaints, a lot, from every single human I tell what I do for a living. Am I right fellow PTs?
What is a trigger point?
A motor (movement) dysfunction within the muscle in which there is increased density in the muscle belly. Usually, a localized tender spot but can be associated with referred and, sometimes, persistent pain. It is said they can be found anywhere on the body, differing between people and in intensity.
There are different types:
Active: current triggering of pain locally and/or referred
Latent: a point that is only tender with compression which may or may not be associated with referred pain
Secondary/Satellite: cascading trigger points created in referral zone from a primary trigger point
How are they formed?
No definitive cause is attributed to trigger points however overexertion, overuse, repetitive wear and tear, posture, trauma, flexibility or structural issues, and nutritional deficiencies are said to play a part.
There are many methods from conservative to invasive techniques (dry needling, injections, etc). As a physical therapist and massage therapist, I opt for the conservative approach always as a primary option, like coming to see me!
Often massage (manual or instrument-assisted, such as Graston), stretching including active release or muscle energy techniques may be done by a professional (like myself) along with alignment, postural, and functional restoration exercises individualized for patient to correct dysfunctions that cause repetitions of trigger points. And be forewarned that these trigger points may require some pain for gain in particularly with the manual focus.
My first recommendation is to talk to your PCP to get a referral for PT to be sure your source of pain is indeed muscular and not myofascial or neurological and to get individualized education on your specific pain. Or seek out a specialized deep tissue massage therapist, like myself. Have you noticed a direct correlation to my shameless self-promotion yet? 😂
For my Luxembourgish community come visit me at LuxChiro: Luxembourg Chiropractic and Wellness Centre 239, Val des Bons Malades, Kirchberg, L-2121 Luxembourg
You can book your appointments with me directly online by clicking this link LuxChiro
What can you do?
Come see me, of course, but if logistics make this difficult there are self-help tools you can use to try to manage your symptoms on your own at home.
Additionally, there is a sample of therapeutic tools like a foam roll, tennis/lacrosse balls, or Theracane that you can have on hand at home, to begin doing a self-massage but, again, I highly recommend seeking out the advice of a specialist prior to starting.