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Vital Times Newsletter
Trigger Points May 2009

What are they?

Trigger points are extremely common, causing musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. They may develop in any voluntary skeletal muscle. There are two types of trigger points: (1) latent trigger points cause stiffness, increased muscle tension and decreased range of motion or flexibility of joints from muscle shortening but do not cause spontaneous pain; and (2) active trigger points have the same symptoms as latent trigger points but DO cause pain with compression. A latent trigger point can become active if the muscle it is located in remains shortened and if the TrP is continually irritated causing referred pain (pain to surrounding and distant from the TrP).


Vitality Treatment Centre
302-1842 Oak Bay Ave
Victoria, BC V8R 1C2

Ph: 250.370.1020

Monday to Friday
8:30 am to 7:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday
8:30 am to 5:00 pm

How does a RMT know I have a TrP?

Trigger points are identified by a palpable taut band or nodule and spot tenderness that causes pain. Pain severity ranges from agonizing and incapacitation to a painless restriction of joint motion and postural distortion. Unrecognized myofascial trigger points contribute to conditions such as tension headaches, occipital neuralgia and tennis elbow (medial epicondylitis).

Why are TrP's important to treat?

If left untreated, and allowed to become chronic, trigger points are then harder to relieve and cause increased pain. Also an active key trigger point can induce an active satellite TrP in another muscle. When treated, the inactivated TrP can also inactivate the satellite TrP. Two for one therapy!

How did I get this TrP?

The common cause of trigger point activation is from muscle overload that may be acute, repetitive or sustained. Other causes are direct impact trauma and overwork muscle fatigue.

Direct causes include acute trauma, overwork fatigue, radiculopathy, and gross trauma. Indirect causes include emotional distress, joint dysfunction, arthritic joint, and other trigger points.

Some patients may not be aware of the dysfunction of the trigger point, only the pain. The dysfunction of increased muscle tension, decreased stretch range of motion are not noticed or ignored. The pain complaint of active TrP's can be poorly localized, regional, aching pain in the muscle and joint (subcutaneous tissue).

Active TrP's become more common with age to our most active middle years. In later years of life with decreased strenuous activity latent TrP's become a more common complaint as stiffness and inflexibility. Active TrP's are less common in laborers and increase with sedentary workers. TrP's are found mostly in postural muscles of the neck, shoulder and pelvic girdle and mastication; scalenes in the neck, levator scapulae and upper trapezius of the shoulder girdle and quadratus lumborum of the low back being the most common.

The Symptomatic Picture

Motor dysfunction: spasm of other muscles (muscles that are prone to tightness, loss of co-ordination of involved muscles, decreased work tolerance. Example: A TrP in the forearm may present with hand weakness, decreased forearm muscle co-ordination and unreliable grasp.

Sleep disturbances: due to pain, increased pain sensitivity the next day from a sleepless night, positioning is critical do to maintaining shortened muscle position or compression of Trp increasing pain


To fully remove a Trp the therapist and patient must work together to treat not only the symptoms but also the causative factors so that the TrP does not return or become chronic.

A typical treatment plan includes:

  • Inactivation of the TrP using digital pressure called an ischemic compression held up to 90 seconds
  • Address the cause of activation of the TrP
  • Correct the perpetuating factors
  • Aid the patient in restoring and maintaining normal muscle function

Vitality Treatment Centre is a multi-disciplinary health treatment centre located near the Oak Bay Village of Victoria, BC, Canada.

Modalities We Offer
Massage Therapy
Manual Lymph Drainage
Cranio-Sacral Therapy
Trad'l Chinese Medicine
Myofascial Release
Hot Stones Therapy

Gift Certificates Available

Please feel free to contact us regarding this or any of our other therapies.
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