Feeling Knotty? 3 Ways to Treat Your Myofascial Trigger Points

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myofascial trigger points

Do your muscles feel tight, tender, or stiff? You might experience local or referred pain, local twitch response, or a limited range of motion. If these symptoms sound familiar, there’s a chance you’re experiencing myofascial pain.

Skeletal muscle accounts for 50% of your body weight. Myofascial pain is responsible for many instances of chronic musculoskeletal pain. The pain is characterized by the appearance of muscular trigger points, or tender knots.

While this condition is common, the diagnosis is often missed.

If you’re experiencing myofascial pain, you could benefit from treatment. Keep reading to discover three ways a physiotherapist can treat your myofascial trigger points. 

By discovering your treatment options, you can ease the pain and get back to living happy and healthy!

Myofascial Pain

About 30 to 85% of patients with musculoskeletal pain have myofascial trigger points. These sensitive spots, or trigger points, develop in ropey bands of muscles called fascia. Adding pressure to these trigger points can cause pain in other parts of your body. 

If you experience myofascial pain, you might also experience symptoms like:

  • Weak, stiff, or inflexible muscles
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Painful knots in your muscles
  • Localized or referred pain when these knots are pressed
  • Pain in areas of your muscle
  • Muscle pain that intensifies
  • Muscle pain that fails to improve over time
  • Increased pain when you stretch
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances

If you begin noticing these symptoms, don’t try to work out your myofascial trigger points alone. Instead, consider visiting a licensed physiotherapist. They can help treat your pain using myofascial trigger point therapy and other techniques.

Causes and Risk Factors

Usually, a myofascial trigger will develop after you’ve overused a muscle. You might also develop these knots due to psychological stress or injury that caused muscle trauma.

You might develop a trigger after repeating the same activity over a period of time. For example, lifting heavy objects repeatedly can cause a knot to develop.

However, sitting in front of a computer screen all day can cause myofascial triggers to develop, too.

Other contributing factors to consider include:

  • A nutritional deficiency
  • Hormonal changes such as menopause
  • Mental illness or emotional problems such as anxiety or depression
  • Sleep deficiency
  • A lack of exercise or movement
  • Poor posture
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Sitting in an awkward, uncomfortable position for too long
  • A musculoskeletal injury
  • An intervertebral disk injury
  • Fatigue
  • An inflammatory condition

During an appointment with your psychotherapist, they’ll complete a physical exam to look for your myofascial triggers. They might press the tender nodules in your muscles to find a pain response.

If you have myofascial pain, your physiotherapist will likely feel a twitch in the muscle. This is known as a jump sign. 

Make sure to let your physiotherapist know which symptoms you’re experiencing. Make a note of where and how often you’re experiencing pain, too. 

Treatments

Your physiotherapist might develop a multipronged, customized treatment to ease your pain. Here are three forms of therapy they might consider to treat your symptoms.

1. Medications

First, your physiotherapist might consider suggesting medications that could help ease your symptoms.

For example, they might suggest nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). These drugs are available over-the-counter and include acetaminophen and ibuprofen. You can take Tylenol or Advil to relieve your swelling and pain symptoms. 

There are also muscle relaxants like tizanidine and benzodiazepines. These medications will help reduce your muscle spasms.

If your pain and spasms continue, you might want to consider an anticonvulsant.

Gabapentin and pregabalin are anticonvulsants that can reduce your spasms and ease your pain.

Other medications for pain relief include Botox injections, tricyclic antidepressants, and analgesics. Make sure to speak with your physiotherapist to determine which medications are ideal for your condition.  

2. Needle Procedures

There are also needling procedures that can help provide myofascial trigger point release.

For example, dry needling is one of the fastest ways to inactivate a myofascial trigger point. During a session, your physiotherapist will insert the needle into the trigger point. They’ll move the needle in and out to inactivate the trigger point.

Your physiotherapist might also use acupuncture needles for this procedure. Acupuncture needles are smaller and therefore less painful than other needles used for dry needling.

Functional dry needling (FDN), on the other hand, uses single-use needles. This procedure can help reduce your trigger points and adverse muscle tone. It can also relieve the pain and dysfunction you’re experiencing.

With FDN, the localized areas of tightness will relax.  

Trigger point injections are another option for myofascial trigger point therapy.

With this needle procedure, only a solution is injected into your tissue. Saline or a local anesthetic is often used. Though the effect is similar to the dry needling procedure, you’ll likely experience less pain with this option.

3. Therapy

A physiotherapist can also help you create a customized therapy plan to treat your myofascial trigger points. Your physiotherapy plan might involve:

  • Stretching
  • Ultrasound
  • Heat therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Posture training

You can use gentle stretches to reduce the pain throughout your affected muscles. Do you often experience pain when stretching or working out? Your physiotherapist can help you discover which exercises are ideal for your condition. 

Ultrasound therapy, on the other hand, can increase your blood circulation. When your blood flows, it can carry healing nutrients to your trigger points. These nutrients will help you heal to ease your pain. 

K-LASER therapy and shockwave therapy can also stimulate tissue repair and help you manage your pain. These therapy options help accelerate the healing process.

Massage therapy can help relieve the pain and tension in your affected muscles. Your physiotherapist will use long strokes with their hands. The added pressure can help relieve your muscle tension.

What’s the root cause of your myofascial pain? If you’re sitting at a desk all day, posture training could help relieve your pain. It can also help you avoid myofascial trigger pain in the future.   

Myofascial Trigger Points: 3 Treatments That Can Ease Your Pain

Don’t let your myofascial trigger points control your life. Instead, ease the pain away with these three forms of treatment. With myofascial trigger point therapy, you can reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

Eager to say goodbye to your pain? Book a no-obligation appointment at our offices today!

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