Trigger Points: What's Causing Your Pain?- Magnolia PT

Trigger Points: What’s Causing Your Pain?

February 2nd, 2015

What’s causing your pain? A patient recently came to us complaining of pain that was radiating throughout his arm and limiting his motion. Our therapist Kristy Livingston, who specializes in orthopedic disorders and is a skilled manual therapist, began examining the man and he was surprised when she started working on his shoulder, not his arm.

He was even more surprised when it worked and his pain subsided.

How can this be? The short answer is that a trigger point was causing his pain and limited motion. Basically, a trigger point is a tight band of muscle, tender to the touch and can refer pain to distant parts of the body. Patients may have regional, persistent pain resulting in a decreased range of motion in the affected muscles.

“So the trigger point will be tender to the touch, but the pain can be spread out to another part of the body,” explains Livingston. “Once I can trace the pain back to the trigger point then I can treat it.”

MPT therapists use a variety of methods to treat trigger points. All MPT therapists are trained in manual therapy, so a therapist will use their hands to apply pressure to the trigger area, releasing the muscle tightness and increasing blood flow. Often, patients will feel almost instant relief. Livingston has also found that dry needling, which uses filament needles to get a twitch response to release muscle tension and pain, can be very effective.

“After the trigger point is released, we can work on strengthening the area to normalize movement patterns, so the patient can get back to doing what they enjoy most without pain,” Livingston says.