Understanding how bones, muscles, and tendons connect is the foundation of trigger point treatment. It’s also the key to successfully treating trigger points.
Watch the video below to learn more.
We’re going to look at the basis of how the musculoskeletal system works. Once you understand this, a lot of other things will become clear about trigger points and how they work.
The basic structure you have bones, tendons, and muscles. You have muscles turning into tendons, joining into bone. Each of these structures is very different from the other.
Bones are hard and rigid. Joining into them is the tendon, a smooth, glistening white structure made of collagen. You could imagine it like a tightly wound rope.
The tendon then joins into the muscle. Muscles are the powerhouse of the area. Muscles contract with force to move your bones. They transmit force to the bones via tendons.
As the muscle shortens, it creates a lot of tension where the tendon joins into the bone. When too much force is transmitted by the muscles, a tear can occur in any weak areas where the muscle joins into the tendon, or where the tendon joins into the bone.
When a muscle tears, you’ll have swelling, which is part of the healing process. Muscles have a great blood supply and tend to heal quickly.
When tendons tear, they heal much slower because they don’t have a good blood supply.
You can have a problem in the tendon itself. You can have a problem at the musculotendinous junction, and finally, you can have problems in the muscle itself. The main type of problem that occurs in the muscles under stress is trigger points.
Trigger points are only be found in the muscle tissue itself, though this can be very close to the musculotendinous junction. Trigger points can also refer pain into joints (so you feel the pain in a different area from the muscle which has the trigger point.)
Tendons relatively poor blood supply which makes them vulnerable to injury and slow to heal. This can result in the only warning mechanism your body has: pain.
Pain coming from your tendons is very common.
Some of the household names for this condition include tennis elbow, weeder’s thumb, golfer’s elbow, runner’s knee, and of course Achilles’ heel.
Literally, tendonitis means inflammation of a tendon. This is actually an incorrect term because most studies show there is little or no inflammation in damaged tendons.
What has been found is degeneration in the tendon and this is called tendinosis. And this is where trigger points come into the equation. A tendon can be damaged by many things, but one of them is tight muscles.
Trigger points cause muscles to have these tight bands that don’t stretch properly. And these tight bands of muscle can cause or prolong tendonitis.
Quite often the pain of triggers refers down to where the tendon is. This means that you may be wrongly diagnosed with tendonitis, when in fact you have trigger points. On the other hand, you may have a damaged tendon, but trigger points are contributing to the pain in the area.
Often pain = tension, which results in more myofascial triggers. The two conditions can contribute to each other, so treating them both together makes sense. You can certainly treat triggers proactively, but often damaged tendons simply need rest.
So when you have a diagnosis of tendonitis, check out whether there are trigger points in the muscles attached to the tendons. Treating these may help the tendon pain.
If you want to get hold of free trigger point charts and resources to find and treat all your trigger points, here’s where to go: