Physical Therapy

Symptoms of Myofascial Trigger Points

There are various symptoms of myofascial trigger points. These include local pain, referred pain patterns, and autonomic and proprioceptive disturbances, among others. Here we will look into some of these symptoms that healthcare professionals should be aware of to identify myofascial trigger points.

Clinical Symptoms of Myofascial Trigger Points

Local Pain

Although referred pain is one of the most frequent complaints of patients with myofascial trigger points, there is also local pain, which may include burning sensations and tenderness on the involved muscle. Several nociceptive substances have been identified in the proximity of a myofascial trigger point.

Autonomic and Proprioceptive Disturbances

Excessive sweating and salivation are not uncommon with myofascial trigger points. Patients may also experience positive pilomotor reflex or redness around the trigger point areas. Dizziness, lack of balance and tinnitus have been documented in some chronic cases.

Edema and Cellulite

Local edema can be a result of decreased blood circulation and accumulation of the products of cellular metabolism. This can be readily visible with skin indentations when conducting the “matchstick test.” Cellulite may also be present.

Sleep Disturbances

Patients often complain of lack of sleep due to pain, numbness or other disturbances. They may find comfort assuming a position that puts the muscle in a shortened position. It is important to note, that muscle shortening may cause further activation of myofascial trigger points and further loss of flexibility.

Physical Symptoms of Myofascial Trigger Points

Tender and Painful Nodules

Palpating along the taut band will demonstrate some tenderness. The locus directly on and around the myofascial trigger point will exhibit nodularity and exquisite pain. Increasing pressure on the nodule will also elicit the referred pain pattern and patient pain recognition.

Local Twitch Response

LTR is produced through a local depolarization of the muscle membrane. Local twitch response can be elicited through pincer snapping palpation across the taut band and this can prove useful in the release of persistent, unresolved trigger points.

Limited Range of Motion

Because the taut band produces abnormal tension and tenderness, myofascially involved muscles will exhibit limited range of motion. Muscle stiffness and tightness are also very common.

It is important to understand that utilizing these criteria to decide what muscles to treat may lead to false treatment. There are additional factors involved in the decision. To learn more, register for our online or hybrid Myofascial Trigger Point Course, which includes live, hands-on training for properly diagnosing and treating trigger points.