If you have pelvic pain, chances are you have trigger points somewhere within or adjacent to your pelvic floor muscles. Indeed, trigger points are a key factor in many pelvic pain syndromes.
Because of the key role they play in pelvic pain syndromes, I’m dedicating this week’s blog post to them. I’ll begin with an overall explanation of what they are. Then, I’ll explore the part they play in pelvic pain syndromes. And lastly, I’ll wrap up with a discussion of how pelvic pain trigger points are diagnosed and treated.
The Trouble with Trigger Points
A muscle is made up of numerous fibers. A trigger point is a small, taut patch of involuntarily contracted muscle fibers within a muscle. The tightly contracted fibers that form a trigger point effect blood supply to the nearby tissue, which in turn make the area hyperirritable when compressed.
In addition to the local pain they cause, trigger points often refer pain elsewhere. On top of that, they can pull on tendons and ligaments associated with the muscle they are in, and can even cause pain deep within a joint where there are no muscles.
Two leading medical professionals, an MD and a PT—Dr. David Simons and Janet Travell, a husband and wife duo—first coined the term “trigger point” in 1942.
Once trigger points made it onto the medical map, it became obvious that a handful of different kinds existed. For instance, there are active trigger points, which as their name suggests, actively cause pain and other symptoms. There are latent trigger points, which are dormant, but have the potential to cause trouble. And there are satellite trigger points, which can crop up in another trigger point’s referral zone. For instance, a trigger point in the levator ani muscle can cause a trigger point to occur in the abdomen.
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