Finding & Treating Low Back Pain Trigger Points

Low back pain trigger points can be a cause of long term pain that’s often missed.

Trigger Points in the lower back can cause:

  • A deep, aching pain that’s hard to ignore
  • Stiffness and restriction of movement

In this page you’ll discover:

  • The most common lower back muscles that get trigger points
  • How to find these pain points
  • Treatment methods for lower back triggers

The World Health Organisation reported 44% adults experience lower back pain each month. This makes it the 2nd commonest place for people to feel pain in their body.

Chronic lower back pain is an enormous and increasing problem in Western world, and one major overlooked cause of pain is trigger points. Lower back muscles are vulnerable to getting trigger points. This is because your back muscles have to balance and power your back – and you use them every day for movement, sitting and standing.

Trigger points can also be activated when the spinal joints or discs are injured. Your body sends a message to the back muscles telling them to go into a protective spasm.

This turns on trigger points within the muscle. So triggers become a part of chronic back pain. And sometimes the original cause of pain may have settled, but the trigger points continue to cause pain.

They then become the primary cause of ongoing lower back pain. Trigger points in the back are simple to treat effectively – and can provide significant pain relief.

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The Most Common Lower Back Trigger Points

The most common muscles to get triggers are:

When these muscles have active trigger points, they refer pain into the back. Some of them also refer pain down into the buttock and upper leg. There are also two other muscles: the rectus abdominus and psoas. These are found in your abdomen, but triggers here can refer pain into your back. Because they’re not located in the back, these two muscles are often missed as a cause of lower back pain.

Quadratus Lumborum Trigger Point and Pain Referral Pattern. (Find other triggers at

Finding Lower Back Trigger Points

The key to finding trigger points anywhere is to have sensitive fingers. What you’re feeling for is first a tight band in the muscle fibers. It feels almost like a guitar string of tight muscle in the midst of the more relaxed muscle fibers around it.

Once you’ve found that tight band, travel up and down it till you come to a slight thickening in the muscle. When you press on this, you’ll feel pain. Depending on the trigger points, you’ll feel pain right where it is, and also in a pain referral pattern. These pain patterns are different for each trigger point, and you can review them all at

When you’re looking for lower back trigger points, it can be a little more complicated. You’ll need to either reach behind your own back to find the triggers, or ask someone else to press on your back muscles until they locate them. They’ll need feedback from you as to when they’re getting close to the correct spot.

The other way you can find trigger points in your back is to use a tool. The ones we like are the Back Knobber, Trigger Fairy or Theracane. Using one of these tools you can easily apply a small amount of pressure to your back muscles, and search around till you hit on a trigger point.

Treating Lower Back Pain Trigger Points

There are two main methods for treating trigger in your lower back. One of them can be done as a self-treatment, the other would need to be done by a qualified practitioner.

Because some back muscles are quite deep, dry needling can be very effective to treat these triggers. Dry needling involves inserting a very thin acupuncture-type needle into the trigger point. This needs to be done by a qualified professional, as there are risks involved if the needle isn’t placed correctly.

The self-treatment technique uses what’s known as ischemic pressure. This is a safe and gentle technique. Basically, if it hurts, you’re not doing it right…

If you think back to what a trigger point is, it’s a tiny area of spasm in a muscle. The spasm is caused by a protective reflex. It has contracted in an attempt to keep you safe. Ischemic pressure temporarily restricts blood flow to the trigger point.

This gives it the trigger point chance to reset. You can apply ischemic pressure to trigger points with your hands, or with one of the tools we mentioned before.

Resource Link: Ischemic Pressure Treatment for Trigger Points