What is a Trigger Point?

Trigger points are tight bands of muscle fibers and connective tissues which can cause intense pain and dysfunction.  This pain is not only where the know is located but it can be felt in distant places from the root issue. 

Acupuncture is a remarkable therapy to releases the trigger point area and provides long-lasting pain relief. In this blog post, I will explain what a trigger point is, how it affects your health, and how acupuncture can help relieve it.

What is a Trigger Point?

woman-holding-neckTrigger points are tight bands of muscles and connective tissues. These areas not only can cause pain where they are located, they also can lead to pain and discomfort not only where the pain in distant areas throughout the body. 

Fascia and connective tissue have long been overlooked—depicted as the “white stuff” in old college textbooks—and have emerged from the shadows of obscurity to be recognized as pivotal elements in our health and well-being.

Today, we appreciate fascia for what it truly is: a critical player in our body’s function and health. Beyond pain, the release of these knots through therapeutic interventions like acupuncture has been shown to alleviate a plethora of non-muscular symptoms, from poor digestion to systemic discomfort, highlighting the interconnected nature of our bodily systems. 

The Causes of Trigger Points

A myriad of factors can lead to the formation of trigger points. Injury, the repetitive strain of daily tasks, ongoing stress, or the consequences of chronic poor posture can lead to the development of trigger points. 

As a doctor of acupuncture, I have witnessed first-hand the broad spectrum of issues stemming from trigger points. These range from localized pain in the neck and shoulders to more widespread concerns like back and pelvic pain, not to mention migraines, constipation, and other systemic problems.

The Ripple Effect: Referred Pain 

neck musclesA trigger point is comparable to a knot in a piece of rope—a densely packed bundle of muscle fibers that is easily palpable and often the epicenter of discomfort. When you pull on the rope, the tension is not only in the areas of the knots but throughout its entire length. 

In your body, when a trigger point is activated, the tight muscle exerts a pull on the surrounding connective tissue. The connective tissue is can also become knotted up in this process. This area often becomes sore to the touch, signaling the localization of the problem. 

Acupuncture has traditionally described these areas as “ashi” points, literally  meaning “ouch points.”

Taking neck pain as an illustrative example, the discomfort might spread across the upper shoulders, yet it’s often one particular spot that creates the pain when touched—the trigger point. 

From this epicenter, the pain radiates outward, creating what is known as “referred pain.”  This referred pain underscores the interconnectedness of our musculoskeletal system, with muscle and connective tissue drawing on all structures around the trigger point, thereby transferring pain to seemingly unrelated body parts.

Acupuncture: A Pathway to Release

The treatment of a trigger point via acupuncture is a profound experience, marked by a muscle twitch followed by relaxation. This sensation of pressure and subsequent release is not only at the center of the point, but it also signifies the alleviation of tension across a network of muscles and connective tissues.

The power of releasing a trigger point goes beyond the immediate area, fostering connections between various muscle groups and body regions. This not only brings immediate relief but also sets the stage for lasting healing and recovery.

Get Acupuncture, Feel Better!

Patients often express astonishment at the depth of relief that comes from treating a single trigger point. This reaction speaks volumes about the effectiveness of acupuncture in addressing not just isolated symptoms but the underlying connections that contribute to our overall health. By focusing on these pivotal points, acupuncture unravels the complex web of pain and dysfunction, offering a holistic path to wellness that transcends traditional approaches to pain management.

Please call us at 212-319-5757 to make an appointment or you can schedule your appointment online. 

Joseph Alban

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.

Joseph Alban is a Doctor of Acupuncture, New York Licensed Acupuncturist, and NCCAOM Board Certified Herbalist providing the highest quality Acupuncture and Chinese medicine care tailored to your needs.

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