Trigger points are very sensitive areas within the muscle that can cause referred pain and contract when touched. They can remain inactive for years, but can become active again when there is stress or trauma. Trigger points don't go away on their own, and if left untreated, they can worsen and cause the pain to return. Trigger points can be either active or latent.
An active trigger point will always cause pain and can prevent full use of the muscle, leading to weakness and decreased range of motion. A latent trigger point won't cause pain during normal activities, but it will be tender to the touch and can be activated when the muscle is tense, fatigued, or injured. Research has found that women with temporomandibular disorder (TMD) have more and worse trigger points than healthy subjects or those with less frequent headaches. Diagnosing a trigger point is usually simple, but treating them can be more difficult.
There are several ways to treat trigger points without needles, such as using a vibrating massager. Trigger points are often overlooked as a cause of pain, but they can be an important piece of the puzzle for many people. Knowing about trigger points offers some possibilities for relief. It's important to remember that trigger points may not go away on their own, but there are treatments available to help manage them.