Myofascial Trigger Points

Trigger point release shoulder

Myofascial Trigger Points

Trigger point (TrP)! You hear it all the time, but what exactly is are trigger points and what can you do about them?

What are trigger points?

To put it simply, a trigger point is a “knot” in your muscle.

That nagging nodule in your shoulder, or that odd pain you feel shooting down your arm or leg. To be specific they are a hyper-irritable spot, with a palpable nodule within a taut band of muscle. They refer pain to other areas of the body, mimicking conditions such as sciatica. They can also cause tension type headaches and TMJ dysfunctions, along with many other chronic conditions.

How do we identify trigger points?

Trigger points are commonly identified by meticulous palpation of muscle from its origin to its insertion. Sensation of nodules or taut bands are palpated and direction pressure is applied to the point to confirm. To confirm that the point of compression is a trigger point there are typically four kind of response we see.

  1. local muscle twitch response – visible or palpable contraction of the muscle and skin when direct pressure is applied
  2. Local tenderness
  3. Jump sign – an involuntarily movement or jerk
  4. Referred pain – pain pattern distance from the area of compression    


SCM Trigger Point

SCM trigger point referral pattern

What are the common causes of trigger points?

Trigger points can be present all throughout the muscles of the body and can develop at any point in time. They are commonly caused by:

  • Emotional stress or chronic stress conditions 
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excessive overworking or overuse of muscles
  • Physical trauma / injury
  • Diet Deficiencies – vitamin C, D B, folic acid, iron
  • Skeletal abnormalities (e.g. scoliosis)
  • Sleep disturbances (usually long-term)
  • Joint problems and hyper-mobility
Gluteus Medius TrP referral pattern

Gluteus Medius TrP referral pattern


How may a trigger point present on you?

There may be various signs or symptoms that may present when trigger points are  developed. The most typical findings we see are;

  • Changes in range of motion/flexibility
  • Sensation of muscle tension/tightness
  • Pain that is perceived at a area other than the site of pain
  • Muscle weakness or imbalance
  • Pain with movement
  • Postural compensations or anomaly
  • Aches everywhere in the body, tension headaches, jaw joint problems as some accompanying symptoms.

How do you release trigger points?

Our therapist are well trained and have various techniques to release trigger points.

Two common and most effective techniques used are manual trigger point therapy and dry needling. Manual trigger point therapy is direct pressure applied to specific trigger points in the muscle tissues found by your therapist, the compression is held for typically 1-3 minutes or until the referral pain is diminished.

Dry needling includes the use of sterile disposable acupuncture needles, directly penetrating the taut, nodules found in the muscles. You may experience twitch responses from the muscle from dry needling trigger points, which is followed by an immediate, palpable relaxation of the muscle. As a result, patients of experiences a great sense of release and significant increase range of motion following either technique.

Trigger point release shoulder

Trigger point release therapy

dry needling upper trap

Dry Needling therapy








Trigger points can be irritating and affect our quality of life! You don’t have to live with these nagging pain and discomfort. Speak to our Chiropractor Dr Steven Tran, if you’re unsure if your pain is deriving from a trigger point or if you are experience similar symptoms.


Post by: Chiropractor Steven Tran