Trigger Points Explained

Pain Management Clinic

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What is a trigger point?The definition of a Trigger Point in Wikipedia reads like this:-

Trigger points, also known as trigger sites or muscle knots, are described as hyper-irritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers

The trigger point model states that unexplained pain frequently  radiates from these points of local tenderness to broader areas,  sometimes distant from the trigger point itself. Practitioners claim to  have identified reliable referred pain patterns which associate pain in one location with trigger points elsewhere. There is variation in the methodology for diagnosis of trigger points and a dearth of theory to explain how they arise and why they produce specific patterns of referred pain.

The term "trigger point" was coined in 1942 by Dr. Janet Travell to describe a clinical finding with the following characteristics:

  • Pain related to a discrete, irritable point in skeletal muscle or fascia, not caused by acute local trauma, inflammation, degeneration, neoplasm or infection.
  • The painful point can be felt as a nodule or band in the muscle, and a twitch response can be elicited on stimulation of the trigger point.
  • Palpation of the trigger point reproduces the patient's complaint of pain, and  the pain radiates in a distribution typical of the specific muscle  harboring the trigger point.
  • The pain cannot be explained by findings on neurological examination.

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