Trigger points, also known as trigger knots, are hypersensitive sheets of tissues found between the muscles and the skin that can easily feel pain or stiffness. They cause what doctors call “referred pain,” which is pain in one area of the muscle that causes another pain in another region. Trigger points can affect the performance of the whole muscle, spread pain to a larger area, and even affect other trigger points. This concept provides a framework to address certain musculoskeletal soreness.
A trigger point at the top of the shoulder, for example, will refer pain up the side of the neck and head, causing headache. Active trigger knots in the muscles of the shoulder, neck, and face are the most common sources of headaches. Managing sore muscles through cycles of isolated pressure can soothe tight areas where trigger points are located. In therapies involving trigger points, the recipient is required to practice deep breathing—among other procedures—to easily identify the exact location and intensity of the discomfort.
While trigger points can sometimes be weird and recurrent, most are simply painful spots in muscles that are usually fairly easy to find and get rid of with a just little rubbing. However, being hypersensitive tissues, these knots are best handled by professional physical therapists.