Guest Column: Why you should be aware of trigger points

Have you ever had tight knots in your muscles that were painful when you pressed on them? That knot you felt could be a trigger point.

Trigger points are small knots of muscle fibers that are painful with applied pressure and create pain in another area of the body. That pain is “referred pain.”

Referred pain, or tenderness, distinguishes trigger points from tender points, which cause pain only in the area of pressure. Tender points are usually found at the insertion points of muscles, while trigger points are found in the belly of the muscle.

Trigger points can develop after acute or repetitive motion injuries, or in muscles that have been stressed after surgeries. Some researchers believe prolonged poor posture, vitamin deficiencies, lack of exercise, sleep disturbances or joint problems can also lead to the development of trigger points.

Trigger points can either be active or latent. Active trigger points cause pain even at rest, while latent trigger points cause pain only with applied pressure.

Trigger points can cause restricted movement and muscle weakness. Trigger points can cause different symptoms depending on their location: headaches, ringing in the ears, jaw pain, limb pain, chest pain, and low back pain.

Trigger points can be treated by several different methods, including massage techniques, acupuncture and acupressure, ultrasound, “spray and stretch” technique, or with injections of local anesthetic, saline or steroid. In our clinic, all of these methods have been used, usually with great success.

If you are interested in learning more about trigger points and how you can treat them yourself, a free, hands-on workshop will be offered by Dr. Andrew Kong at Northern Illinois Medical Group at 6 p.m., Aug. 5. Please call our clinic at (815) 397-8500 to reserve your seat.

Dr. Jonathan Taylor of Northern Illinois Medical Group, 5301 E. State St., Suite 101, Rockford, IL 61108, can be reached by phone at (815) 397-8500 or e-mail at, or visit

from the July 29-August 4, 2009, issue

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