Trigger points can be found anywhere throughout the body but often give us most trouble causing neck pain and low back pain, both regions which can be implicated in the development of ‘muscular tension’ headaches.
Trigger points are the tender almost nodular feelings in generally taut bands of muscle. They are very good at creating a sense of vague achy, deep dull or boring pain, even sometimes sharp and ‘nervy’. They also result in stiffening and weakening of muscles such that they cannot do their job in supporting an upright posture for example.
Have a feel of the muscles between the neck and the shoulder, those that may feel tense when sitting all day or stressed. If the muscles feel ropey, stringy or hard with one or two spots that are exquisitely painful to press on, these are likely to be trigger points in your upper trapezius muscle.
The article, Painful and Tender Muscles: Dry Needling Can Reduce Myofascial Pain Related to Trigger Points, as published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, provides further confirmation of the clinical effectiveness of dry needling in the treatment of myofascial pain about the neck region.
The first step is diagnosing and identifying the trigger points. There are specific diagnostic criteria we look for, but unfortunately most GP’s are not taught this in medical school. The result is that myofascial pain resulting from trigger points in muscles can often be overlooked.
A proper assessment will identify any trigger points which may be the sole cause or possibly part of the cause of your pain. There are different ways to treat and ‘de-activate’ the trigger points, arguably the best and quickest technique is the dry needling approach, a form of medical acupuncture where the trigger point is gently targeted directly with a very fine needle.
Does this sound painful? It’s not if the technique is performed correctly by a suitably trained Chartered Physiotherapist.