Why do i suffer with constant upper back and neck pain?

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

What is a trigger point? According to (Alvarez, Rockwell 2002) a trigger point 'knot' is categorised as hyper-irritable and discrete spots located in the muscle or taut band which is what a band of fibres are called if they are damaged, or have a damaged area within that region. This causes local pain and can sometimes cause referred pain to an area close to the damaged site. However this referred pain isn't an indication of a damaged site, it is due to the nociceptors (pain receptors) that are released from the central nervous system, because the damaged area is supplied by the same nerve root of another region of the body - this is why referred pain is present even though there is no injury or damage to the tissue.

Types of trigger points? There are two types of trigger points (Huguenin 2004), active and latent. Active are those that are responsible for the concurrent pain also linked with weakness, parasthesia, (burning sensation). Latent trigger points cause muscle shortening and pain is only present when external pressure is exerted upon the trigger point. These are commonly felt due to poor posture, overuse and muscular imbalance.

Treatment of trigger points?

Ischemic compression;

(Hodgson, Fryer 2005) explains that pressure exerted by the therapist is applied until themselves and the patient feel a release of the underlying tissues, this process usually occurs within 60 seconds. Several studies have backed up that ischemic compression techniques are effective at decreasing pain and sensitivity in Latent trigger points (LTrPs) and active trigger points (ATrPs). (Aguilera 2009) found that ischemic compression therapy has improved range of motion, basal electrical activity of the trapezius muscles and the pain threshold of (LTrPs).

Alvarez, D.J. and Rockwell, P.G., 2002. Trigger points: diagnosis and management. American family physician, 65(4), pp.653-662. Huguenin, L.K., 2004. Myofascial trigger points: the current evidence. Physical therapy in sport, 5(1), pp.2-12.

Fryer G, Hodgson L. The effects of manual pressure release on myofascial trigger points in the upper trapezius muscles. J BodywMov There. 2005;9(4):248-55

Aguilera FJ, Martin DP, Masanet RA, et al. Immediate effect of ultrasound and ischemic compression techniques for the treatment of trapezius latent myofascial trigger points in healthy subjects; a randomised control study. J Manipulation PhysiolTher. 2009;32(7);515-20

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