Are you suffering from muscle, joint, or arthritis pain? Do your shoulders or back feel stiff?
Well, you may have developed what is called “trigger points.” And with the right simple steps, your tensed-up muscles and stiff joints can start whistling a happier tune.
What are trigger points?
Trigger points are tight knots of muscle in your neck, shoulders, or back that make movement painful and difficult. Wherever there is muscle tissue, there may be a small area of tissue tension that could be a trigger point.
Think of it as a small marble just under the skin or a tiny charlie horse in the muscle. Now, the pesky points don’t cause too much pain on their own, but when you have enough you may start to feel intense pain or even limited muscle mobility.
Treating your pain on your own.
I specialize in treating trigger points. Nerves control the muscles, and muscles control the joints. If you have joint pain, chances are that the muscles are involved and irritated in some certain pattern, but it is very hard to figure out that pattern of injury.
The best way to treat joint pain, arthritis pain, muscle spasm, is by treating the muscles. Muscles control everything. If you can reprogram the muscles, and break them out of these neurological patterns of inflammation and spasm, you can get them to heal and function like normal. Well, almost normal. I am a big believer that once you injure yourself, that area is never the same again. The injury gets wired into your system neurologically, and that area is less stable and more likely to get injured in the future.
The best way to treat joint pain and muscle spasm is by applying pressure to the most painful and inflamed spot (trigger point) in the painful muscle; by doing this you cut off the blood supply and the neurological input that perpetuates the muscle spasm.
The way you find the spot (trigger point), is by locating the irritated muscle, and finding the most swollen and painful area of the muscle, and applying pressure to it. When you apply pressure, you are decreasing inflammation in the muscle and joint, and cutting off the neurological input that is causing the muscle spasm. Thereby reprogramming the muscle. The more you treat the trigger point, the quicker you will break that muscle out of its habit of spasm and inflammation, and allow it to return to its normal function.
Please keep in mind though, that the area that you feel your pain, might not be where your pain is coming from. And where you think your primary problem is, might be secondarily irritated by another problem, that is primary. Kind if like if you have pain in the outside of your knee. It can easily be coming from hip tightness in the glutes, on that same side of the knee pain, pulling on the IT band which is pulling on the outside of the knee, giving you knee pain.
Trying to figure out where your pain is coming from can be difficult, at best, even for a professional. That is why I break up joint pain into areas. It is a complex of muscles that are irritated and causing the joint pain. That’s why you can’t just treat one muscle.
Kind of like if you have left shoulder pain, you can’t just treat the infraspinatus rotator cuff muscle. It will be involved, and possibly the primary spot, but you have to treat the rhomboids and traps and muscles going into the neck, and in the front of the chest as well.
Living the Pain-Free Lifestyle.
On my website, I break your pain up into different areas. Shoulder or neck or upper back pain? The written and video blogs will tell you which muscles to treat, and how to treat them. Hip or low back or knee pain? The written and video blogs will tell you which muscles to treat, and how to treat them. The videos are easy to follow and are meant to be done at home.
The only equipment that you will need is a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, massage ball, or something else round and hard. A foam roller is also helpful, along with a basketball. I find the tennis ball much more accurate than the foam roller. And when treating trigger points, and muscle pain, accuracy is everything.
If you are thinking of starting on a new exercise system, I would recommend that you take the time and go through your muscles with a tennis ball and a foam roller, and make sure your muscles are looser and up to the challenge of exercising. You will find that you’ll be sore and sensitive in places that you didn’t know had muscles. Loosen yourself up and balance your body first, prior to starting a new exercise routine. You want to continue to treat yourself and your muscles at home, as you exercise, usually afterward. It is a great way to cool down and recover.
I’d hold each trigger point, or tender spot, for 5-10 seconds, no more. The longer you hold it, the more you chance bruising it. You are trying to reprogram the muscle by breaking up the neurological patterning that is causing the muscle pain, not trying to mash out a muscle knot, or rub out a tender spot. You can go over each muscle 2-3 times. A very painful and active spot, you can go over 4 times. But try not to do it more than that. If you do, you chance bruising the muscle. I’d also not do this more than every other day. If you do it every day, you chance bruising the muscle.
The trigger point will feel like a slippery little ball under the skin. It might be extremely sensitive, or not that sore. It might be stringy, or fibrous. This is a sign that it’s been tight for along time, years.
It is a skill to treating trigger points. Take your time. The more you do it, the better you will get at it. And the better you will feel. The simplest explanation for treating your trigger points at home: find the most irritating spot in the muscle, and press on it.
Have a Pain Free Day
It can be confusing trying to figure out exactly how to trigger point yourself.
How often do you do it? How hard do you go? Do you repeat it? How do you know if you are on the right spot?
These are all legitimate questions.
Those of you who have thrown out their backs can attest, a pulled muscle can be more painful that a bone fracture or even than giving birth.
When you throw your back out, you are spraining or straining the muscles in the hips. A sprain or strain is a microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers. It is akin to fraying a rope. The muscle is made up of thousands of muscle fibers. When you pull or sprain or strain a muscle, you are tearing some of the fibers of that muscle.
And when that happens, the rest of the muscle reflexively contracts, to prevent further tearing. This is the start of a trigger point.
The iliopsoas is a pretty cool muscle.
It’s one of the most complex muscles in the body, and it is the only lower back and hip muscle to attach to the front of the spine.
In fact, the iliopsoas is actually two muscles in one: the psoas muscle and the iliacus muscle.
The psoas muscle attaches along the lumbar spine, and the intervertebral discs then descends obliquely to attach at the upper inner thigh bone. The iliacus muscle attaches to the upper two-thirds of the iliac fossa then descends to join the psoas major tendon, with some of its fibers attaching directly to the femur near the lesser trochanter.
The primary function of both of these muscles is hip flexion. In other words, these muscles work to lift the knee and take your next step while walking.
Ilio-tibial band syndrome (or IT Band Syndrome, for short) is quickly becoming one of the most common overuse injuries, especially among runners.
It’s also one of the most frustrating injuries. While most physical therapists, chiropractors, and clinicians can easily identify and treat IT band syndrome, the average runner doesn’t have a clue.
Have you ever had a pain that’s right behind your neck and just behind between your shoulder blade and your spine?
It is the type of pain that makes most people go crazy trying to reach their hands behind their head to rub their neck and shoulder.
While the pain is commonly associated with the levator scapula muscle, it’s not always the root of the problem.
They are the machines of the body. Every finger movement, every eye blink, every cough, and even every toe wiggle is controlled by your muscles. And usually, it’s not just one muscle involved. It’s tens to hundreds of muscles for even the smallest movement.
Each flick of the finger fires off millions of neurons throughout the brain, spine, and central nervous system to contract and relax these muscle groupings. And all of this is just to scratch your nose.
2016 has been a big year for changes at Cohen Trigger Point Center.
Foremost, 2016 started with the passing of my father, and the founder of our practice, Dr. Jeffrey H. Cohen. He started the practice on April Fools Day, 1976. He was fond of joking that we have been fooling people ever since. He was a pioneer in bringing the treatment of muscles and soft tissue into the field of chiropractic through the treatment of trigger points.
Dr. Cohen specialized in Nimmo’s Receptor Tonus Technique for treating trigger points. He treated many entertainers, celebrities, and athletes. His love for helping people out of pain was legendary. His loss will be felt in the chiropractic community (and in our practice) for many years.