Trigger Points: Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Trigger Points: Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Published: April 9, 2021

Most people have experienced muscle tension pain at some point. While the pain usually resolves itself after a few weeks, muscle pain persists in some cases. Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder that affects the musculoskeletal system. The pain associated with this condition results from active trigger points in your muscles. But what exactly are trigger points and how are they treated? 

Read on to learn more. 

What are Trigger Points?

Trigger points are sensitive areas of tight muscle fibers that develop in skeletal muscles, fasciae or ligaments due to overuse or injuries. A characteristic of myofascial pain syndrome, the sore spots are tender to the touch. When pressure is applied on the sensitive points, they will send pain to distant parts of the body. This is known as referred pain. The tight knots can also cause other symptoms like eye pain and headaches. 

Causes and Risk Factors

The sensitive spots of tight muscle fibers usually occur due to muscle trauma, muscle overuse or psychological stress. However, there is no single factor that is solely responsible for the development of the sensitive areas. Some common contributing factors include:

  • Poor posture
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Lack of sleep
  • Serious lack of exercise
  • Hormonal changes 
  • Obesity
  • Smoking 


A trigger point will typically lead to strain and pain in the affected muscle. You should seek medical attention in case the pain persists or worsens.

The doctor will perform a physical examination to look for sensitive areas. The process will involve applying gentle pressure on the muscle to feel for tense areas. Pressing the trigger point can also elicit a pain response. Your doctor may ask you about your current symptoms as well as any past surgeries and injuries. 

Because there are no tests to help find trigger points, your doctor may only recommend tests to rule out other causes of pain. This will help in arriving at the correct diagnosis. 

Treatment Options

Based on the diagnosis made, your doctor can recommend a number of treatment modalities to inactivate trigger points and relieve symptoms. Mostly, you will need to try more than one approach to effectively manage pain. 


To ease the symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers or stronger ones prescribed by your doctor. Antidepressants can also help to relieve pain while sedatives will go a long way in treating anxiety and improving sleep. 


Depending on your signs and symptoms, your physical therapist will come up with a suitable plan to help relieve pain. Physical therapy may involve stretching, applying heat, posture training, massage therapy and ultrasound therapy. 

Needle Procedures

Dry needling is a technique that involves injecting a local anesthetic or steroid into the affected tissue. This helps to relieve pain and muscle tension. Acupuncture may also be helpful in releasing trigger points. 

Home remedies such as exercise, meditation and eating a healthy diet will also help you cope with pain. At Texas Pain Experts, we are committed to helping patients struggling with pain. Our highly trained physicians use advanced pain management techniques to ensure quality, non-surgical pain relief. Contact us today to learn more about the treatment options available. 


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Published: April 9, 2021

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