Trigger Points Explained

In simple terms, trigger points are hard and painful muscle knots. These knots are located within the muscles themselves, and are very tender to the touch and can send pain to adjacent parts of the body as well. When people complain of feeling “tight” around the neck and shoulders, it’s usually trigger points to blame. Thankfully, at our Massey physio clinics, we can ease the pain of trigger points as part of our general physiotherapy services.

It is believed that trigger points occur when a part of the muscle contracts abnormally, which compresses blood supply to this area and leads to this portion of the muscle becoming extremely sensitive. Trigger points are common around the neck, shoulders, hips and lower back and many factors can cause them to develop e.g. ongoing stress, injuries, overuse and carrying heavy loads. Further research also suggests that things like Inflammation, poor nutrition and incorrect posture can also lead to the formation of these knots.

The considerable soreness associated with trigger points is frequently mistaken for joint or nerve-related pain. This is because the pain is often felt in a location quite different from the site of the actual trigger point itself. But we must remember that the pain of a trigger point can travel and this is why it is commonly thought to be another condition altogether. Trigger points are responsible for stiffness, throbbing pain and general discomfort, and often cause the length of the affected tissues to shorten. Because of this, there’s a growing belief that trigger points can worsen the symptoms of common conditions like arthritis, tennis elbow, tendonitis and bursitis.

If this is the case, then you’ll appreciate how prompt treatment for trigger points could have benefits in other areas as well. As highly trained physiotherapists, we’re adept at assessing and diagnosing trigger points as a source of your ongoing pain. There are a number of treatments and techniques we can use including manual therapy, acupuncture, stretching and strengthening exercises. These methods are known to be very effective in treating trigger points, but some lifestyle changes can bring ongoing relief. For example, improved nutrition, better posture, less stress and a greater focus on training technique can help you minimise those painful and annoying knots.

If you’re constantly in discomfort and unable to work out why, particularly in the neck, shoulder or lower back areas, trigger points could be to blame. Contact us through your nearest Physio Connect clinic and we’ll be able to tell you if those muscle knots are the culprit.


0800 111 788


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Here at Physio Connect, everything that we do is built off the belief that all New Zealanders should have equal access to expert, specialised musculoskeletal services that utilise the latest clinical evidence and treatment protocols.


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