Trigger Points

Tight, aching shoulders – could trigger points be the cause?

A common cause of the all too familiar ache through the upper shoulders and neck can be the presence of trigger points – a tight portion of muscle that remains constantly contracted, otherwise known as knots.

Trigger points can form following minor injury, repetitive activities or muscular fatigue (often caused by poor posture). The tension caused by the contraction leads to decreased blood circulation to the affected area, limiting the oxygenation of the surrounding tissues and causing a build up of waste products. Given enough time, the lack of oxygen can decrease the muscles’ ability to properly function.

Trigger points will often “trigger” pain in areas of the body away from where the immediate contracture has occurred. This can be the cause of dull aching sensations all around the body and can also be a common cause of headaches.

Trigger points can be treated by two main methods: manual sustained pressure, or dry needling (a form of acupuncture). The first treatment method is commonly seen in the form of manual therapy – deep tissue massage, or the use of massage balls at home. It involves specifically locating the trigger point and applying sustained pressure until some relief is felt.

Another form of treatment is dry needling or “trigger point” needling. Here a very fine acupuncture needle is inserted quickly into the contracted muscle then instantly removed. This motion can create what is known as a twitch response whereby the muscle undergoes a very brief involuntary contraction, followed by a relaxation of the tight area. This style of treatment is preferable to the manual pressure required when deeper areas of muscle need to be accessed.

If you would like to know whether trigger point needling is something that could benefit you, feel free to contact Tony at Osteopathic Natural Health. He is qualified in Western Medical Acupuncture and has appointments available in both the Waimauku and Helensville clinics.

Don’t suffer pain, book an appointment here or, if you would like any more advice, please give us a phone call and we will do our best to help.

Tony Howat, Osteopathic Natural Health.

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2 thoughts on “Trigger Points”

  1. To whom may concern, my name is Anastasia and i’m writing you regarding your article. I wanted to know how osteopathy uses trigger points. I understood the method of treatment but i wanted to clarify the benefits of treatment.
    Regards, Anastasia.

    1. HI Anastasia,
      Thank you for your message.
      Trigger points are just one of the many techniques that Osteopaths use to treat their patients.
      We take a global view of the patient’s presentation and consider it within the context of as many aspects of the patient’s life as possible.
      It is part of the human condition that our musculoskeletal system comes under load and, as such, we often palpate hypertonic muscle fibres in our patients.
      These hypertonic muscle areas may be due to many causes but invariably involve trigger point activity.
      Once identified, we then treat using various deep tissue techniques and / or, if the practitioner is qualified to do so, through the use of acupuncture or “dry needling” techniques.
      The benefits are significant and are typified by a considerable reduction in tissue hypertonicity, muscle fasciculation, pain, oedema and an increase in range of movement.
      I hope this answers your question.
      With best regards,
      David and the ONH Team

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