Let's face it. Back and Neck pain stinks.
Many of us experience it on a regular or semi-regular basis, and it can lead us to skip our favorite activities, missing work, and just in an overall bad mood.
So what is causing this back and neck pain and how can we get rid of it
Let's get an explanation from Dr. Shane Cobb, who is a Doctor of Chiropractic in Greensboro, North Carolina and treats Myofascial pain and Trigger points in many of his patients.
What are Myofascial Trigger Points?
Myofascial Trigger Points, often referred to as "knots" are tightly contracted muscles, or a mini muscle cramp, that usually occurs near an injury or irritation.
When this contraction occurs, the muscle chokes off its own blood supply which leads to further irritation and discomfort.
The result of Myofascial Pain is usually pain and discomfort in the afflicted area, as well as stiffness and reduced range-of-motion.
What Causes Myofascial Trigger Points?
This is a good question and a tough one to answer as their true nature is uncertain.
However, the common explanation is that when a person is injured or strains something, the muscle will contract and tighten in order to help compensate and protect the injury.
That muscle then remains tight and as previously stated, restricts blood flow to the area, leading to further irritation.
Some of the most common causes of Trigger points include:
What does Myofascial Pain Feel Like?
When it comes to Trigger Points, patients generally feel like they have a knot in their back, and have a throbbing pain especially when they attempt to move the neck and back. This pain will often restrict their movement and range of motion.
However, Trigger Points can be difficult to diagnose because they can cause other symptoms and mimic other conditions.
Trigger Points can cause headaches, neck pain, back pain, and cover up the underlying injury, which could lead to a missed diagnosis.
The Complicated Process of Diagnosing Myofascial Trigger Points
There are a few factors that make Trigger Points a complicated condition that can lead to misdiagnosis.
First, many medical practitioners, such as Primary Care Physicians, are not really looking at the conditions of the musculoskeletal system in their patients. They are more worried about other, more pertinent conditions than muscle pain and soreness.
Second, the symptoms that can be caused by Trigger points can greatly vary and can radiate all over the body, as well as mimic the symptoms of other more commonly diagnosed conditions.
Some of the common conditions that patients are misdiagnosed with due to actual Trigger points are:
- Chronic Jaw Pain
- Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
As you can see, trigger points can be mistaken for a wide range of conditions, which is why seeing an experienced medical professional and arming yourself with knowledge is so important.
How are Myofascial Trigger Points Treated?
Most of the time, patients experience the most relief with rubbing and pressure application on the trigger point.
However, different medical professionals may use a variety of unique treatments depending on what they and their patients have had success with in the past.
Some of the common treatments used by healthcare professionals to treat Myofascial pain are:
- Mechanical Vibration
- Ischemic Compression
- Pulsed Ultrasound
- Low-Level Laser Therapy
Many factors go into deciding what the best course of action is to treat Trigger Points, and consulting with your doctor is the best way to get the right diagnosis and treatment for you.
What You Can Do To Help Relieve Myofascial Trigger Point Pain
If you are suffering from pain and discomfort, it is always recommended that you consult with a healthcare professional to ensure you get a proper diagnosis and treatment.
However, if you know you are suffering from Myofascial pain, there are some techniques that you can do at home that may help alleviate your symptoms.
- Taking an Anti-Inflammatory
- Identifying the Cause and Eliminating it
- Aerobic Exercise
If none of these methods seem to provide any relief, or the Trigger Points keep coming back, scheduling an appointment with a Chiropractor who has experience treating Trigger Points may be your next best option.