Trigger Points

A trigger point is a hyper irritable spot within a muscle fiber. The point is often tender upon touch and often exhibits a predictable pain referral pattern and causes a shortening of the affected muscle. For example, if the biceps muscle contains a trigger point you will feel local tenderness and a referral of pain into the front of the shoulder and the bend of the elbow. There may also be spillover onto the back and side of the shoulder. Numbness and tingling instead of pain is also a common symptom. Trigger points can also refer to the inner ear or cause headaches leading to unnecessary trips to specialists. Patients are often left frustrated when they are told that there is nothing that can be done for them.


Local tenderness, Numbness and tingling or a sharp shooting pain along a predictable pain pattern, muscle shortening causing a decrease in range of motion. Trigger points around the head and neck can also lead to vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), headaches and muscle twitching.


  • Trauma to the muscle – during the healing process a trigger point may develop.
  • Mechanical stresses – these can include leg length or toe bone inequalities.
  • Postural stresses such as poor posture, improperly fitted furniture, sustained muscle contractions (working at a keyboard), muscle immobility (sleeping with a muscle in a shortened position and poor body mechanics (improperly bending and lifting).
  • Muscle constriction caused by the straps of a backpack or purse compression, for example.
  • Nutritional Inadequacies such as vitamin B, vitamin C or folic acid deficiency.
  • Metabolic imbalances such as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia or gout.
  • Psychological factors such as stress, depression or anxiety.
  • Chronic infection including viral disease or bacterial infection
  • Impaired sleep leading to anxiety and increased muscle tension
  • Cold weather – shivering or a cold draft can cause trigger points

How can Massage Therapy help?

Massage Therapists are highly trained in Trigger Point therapy and have many tools to treat trigger points. Treatment can be painful so a pain scale will be established with you prior to treatment. We will always treat within your pain tolerance. Often, trigger points can be eradicated in as few as one treatment, but depending on how irritable or long standing the trigger point is, treatment can take a few sessions to completely eradicate.