Trigger Points, Tendons, Muscles and Joints

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.)

Trigger Points or Tendonitis? 

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:

murray September 11, 2009

thank for info looking forward to next lesson

Dian Poerwito November 14, 2009

Thank’s and till next lesson

Peggy Hornsby June 17, 2010

I am 62 years old and have been treating triggers for several years and correcting my posture with Egoscue Method. The cause of my dysfunction is from being thrown from a horse 50 years ago and landing on my rear end. Consequently, my left side is out of alignment. To the left of my tailbone I have a small lump, very tight muscles, etc and pain. How can I treat this injured area as it is the source of my problem, I think. Thanks so much!

nemir adjina November 4, 2010

finally getting round to studying, very clear and informative, thank you. nemir

Katherine Perez May 31, 2011

Thanks, It´s been really helpful all this information about trigger points.

Diana Houghton August 21, 2011

Dear Jonathon
I cannot view the video ‘ The difference between Muscles & tendons etc’. I have upgraded Flash player but it still won’t play. Is it not available in the same format as some of your other
videos? I would really like to see it.
Please advise
Thanks
Diana

Jonathan August 29, 2011

Hello Diana,

I’m not sure why this would happen if you have an up to date flash player. I would suggest trying it on another computer or web browser (like google chrome) to see if there are some settings preventing you from seeing the video.

melinda mauch October 19, 2011

I have Fibromalagia….and I was wondering will these trigger points help someone like me? My skin is so sensitive that I can’t stand for it to be touched, But willing to take the pain for long term comfort and less Pain……I see a Pain management DR. take Pain pills, they help but want to add more to the Treatment! Please Help! I have suffer with this condition for 14 yrs! Thank-You Melinda

shirley March 20, 2012

Could u please answer melinda mauch as i have fibro too. thankyou

Jonathan July 8, 2012

This talk: http://lifeafterpain.com/info/fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia-series/
on fibromyalgia does cover some other strategies you can use for managing this condition.

julian joy April 16, 2013

thank you for you more impormation about mascular to hellp me to learn ..i dont know wht say ..only i can say is THANK YOU!!

Dale June 15, 2015

Thank you Jonathan, A change in attitude to conventional treatments, will be required to use these methods. I am determined to learn these new skills and methods to enhance my own wellbeing.

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