Trigger Points

Post date: Feb 08, 2015 11:43:2 PM

You may not have heard the term, but you definitely know what they are. Trigger points are those annoyingly painful knots in your muscles. Like the ones that make your neck and back hurt day in and day out. They are the points that sneak up on you during a nice relaxing massage and suddenly make you scream - Ouch! Too hard! A good deep massage can help alleviate them, that is if you can get through the pain, because... they hurt!

Muscles are made up of strands of cells lined up in the same direction, called muscle fibers. That way, when muscle fibers contract, they all contract in the same direction, working together to flex and extend your joints.

Trigger points form when stress, strain, injury, trauma, unbalanced movements, repetitive and over use cause a small group of muscle fibers within the muscle to contract and stay contracted. These bunched up muscle fibers feel thicker, and that is why it feels like there is a firm knot in the muscle. Since they stay contracted, they limit range of motion and function, and hurt if you try to stretch them. 

But breaking up the knot and stretching it out is exactly what you need to do to treat a trigger point. A massage therapist will push harder and knead into the already painful spot to try and work it out.... Ouch! An acupuncturist will stick a needle into the already painful spot.... BIGGER OUCH! But you know what they say: "No pain, no gain!" A human can focus and breath through it, which is why these methods can work for us.

Try explaining that to a dog or cat: "I'm going to make you hurt more now, so you can feel better later." It doesn't usually go over well with them, and may result in a bite! What we need is a pain free detangler for muscle fibers. 

A trained veterinarian can palpate the muscles to find the trigger points, and then treat them with a TENs unit: a hand held device that emits a small electric pulse into the muscle, causing it to twitch or contract. When applied to a trigger point, it can gently shake up the muscle fibers and loosen the knot. Now that the muscle fibers are soft and pliable, the veterinarian can guide the animal in a gentle stretch through the normal range of motion, returning the muscle fibers to their normal long and slender shape. This resolves the trigger point in the least invasive way possible, returns range of motion and function, and relieves pain.