What’s a Trigger Point?

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A trigger point is one of the most common causes of myofascial pain, a chronic pain disorder that can be treated through different types of manual therapies, including massage therapy. A trigger point is usually described as a painful knot found within tense muscles, transferring pain to other areas, reducing your range of motion, creating painful movements or weakening your muscles. Now, we know that trigger points can cause a lot of pain, but what creates a trigger point in the first place?

Chemical Reactions and Electrical Impulses

Your muscles contract when they receive a signal from a nerve through electrical impulses. Starting within the brain, the signal makes its way down the nerve until it reaches a receptor. When stimulated, this receptor will release a chemical known as acetylcholine, which then travels to the muscle’s cell and causes it to release calcium. Calcium is the culprit that makes the muscles contract. When there’s no signal to the receptor setting this cycle in motion, the muscles will relax due to the lack of calcium.

A Big Reaction

Now, if a muscular overload occurs, causing a large increase of acetylcholine to be released into the receptors, an excessive amount of calcium will flow into the muscle cell. Since we know that calcium causes a contraction in the muscles, a large amount of calcium will result in major contractions within the fibres. This leads to a decrease in circulation in the affected area, meaning the muscles cells aren’t getting enough of the necessary nutrients and oxygen to reabsorb the calcium.

Ultimately, this will result in the muscle fibres being stuck in a state of contraction, creating the irritable patch known as a trigger point. Because this is a constant cycle of muscle contraction thanks to the continuous lack of blood flow, the trigger point and pain it produces won’t seize by itself. Stretching your muscles and massage therapy are necessary to get your circulation moving and break this painful cycle.

But What Causes a Muscle Overload?

You can experience a variety of muscle overloads, including exertion overload, repetitive stress overload (the most common), biomechanical overload, postural overload, referred pain overload and muscle trauma overload. There are also many factors that can leave you more vulnerable to experiencing any one of these forms of muscle overload. Those factors include muscle tension, structural inadequacies, nutritional deficiencies, metabolic disorders, chronic bacterial infections and viral diseases.

How Massage Therapy Can Help

Registered massage therapists understand how trigger points work and what it takes to eliminate them, as well as the pain they bring. While treating the different types of trigger points can vary slightly, the general practice surrounds your massage therapist feeling for areas in your tissue that aren’t normal. They can easily find tension spots and contracted muscles, but in order to permanently rid you of the trigger point, they need to locate the cause of it first.

At Burnaby Heights Chiropractic, our highly trained registered massage therapists are committed to creating a relaxing and healing environment for patients. Our Burnaby massage therapy clinic offers other chiropractic treatments as well, services that will make you feel like a new person. So give us a call or visit our website to book an appointment.

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