Understanding Cervical Trigger Points: How and Why They Develop

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain condition affecting a large number of people – about 200,000 new cases are reported annually. While its causes and symptoms vary from person to person, there are a few identifying factors that chiropractors and other holistic healthcare practitioners can use to diagnose and treat myofascial pain syndrome.

Prior to diagnosing and treating pain, however, it’s important to understand the root cause: Namely, myofascial trigger points.

Understanding and identifying trigger points

Not to be confused with fibromyalgia tender points, myofascial trigger points are sensitive areas in a muscle that cause pain in other parts of the body when pressure is applied to them. Trigger points are areas where the muscle fiber is tightly wound and extremely sensitive.

These points generally form after some level of muscle trauma, such as overuse or injury. Stress and anxiety are also common catalysts.

Regardless of where in the body they form, trigger points are painful and challenging healthcare issues. Trigger points in the cervical spine, which joints the spinal column with the head, can be particularly difficult to deal with. They may reduce a patient’s range of motion, deter them from engaging in daily activities and more.

Treating trigger points

If you suspect a patient is suffering from a cervical trigger point, you should begin an aggressive treatment regimen as soon as possible. Thankfully, there are a number of ways chiropractic professionals can treat cervical myofascial trigger points, including the following:

  • Massage therapy: Skilled massage therapists are trained to relieve muscle tension, which is ultimately the cause of sensitive areas. Prescribing massage therapy to a patient suffering from myofascial pain in their cervical spine is usually the first line of treatment.
  • Dry needling: Stimulating the trigger point via dry needling is another effective treatment for people suffering from myofascial pain in their cervical spine. While the exact reason its effective is still unknown, it’s thought that moving the needle around the affected area stimulates blood flow.
  • Physical therapy: Stimulating the muscle to improve range of motion and reduce tension is another effective means of treatment for myofascial trigger points. Administering physical therapy to patients with a cervical trigger point is a great way to help them regain motion in their neck and shoulders.
  • Injections: Direct injections of anti-inflammatory medications into the site of the trigger point can alleviate tension and pain. Injections are, however, usually considered a last-resort, and should only be recommended to a patient if all other potential treatment methodologies have been ineffective.
  • Medication: Oral medications, like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are an effective way to treat myofascial trigger points. Muscle relaxants are also effective at reducing tension in the muscle affected by myofascial pain. Some medications are habit-forming and cause behavioral changes, however, so prescribe with caution.

As with any condition, the right approach is entirely dictated by the patient. That’s why Chiropractic Biophysics (CBP) is so critical in myofascial trigger point identification and treatment. If you want to implement the latest techniques, tools and technologies at your chiropractic care center, visit one of our upcoming seminars near you.

Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See www.CBPpatient.com for providers in your area.