Overcoming Tension, Knots, and Trigger Points

Tension, muscle knots, and trigger points and some of the most common issues that we see in our patients.  The location of pain and discomfort is often in the back of the shoulder and neck.  There are many muscles that had hold tension so the particular region that is the source of pain varies from person to person.

A common diagnosis that associated with this type of pain is myofascial pain syndrome.  A host of other shoulder conditions can also be present including rotator cuff tears/tendinitis, bicepital tendinitis, impingement syndrome, labral tears, and shoulder arthritis.

To obtain an accurate diagnosis, an examination would be needed.  Although there are differences in how we treat each diagnosis, we’ve found that common limitations exist when tension, muscle knots, and trigger points are present.

Some factors that contribute to tension, muscle knots, and trigger points include instability of the serratus anterior, rotator cuff, lower traprezius, and latissmus dorsi muscles. 

The body will often compensate for instability in these regions by attempting to create stability through tension and knots in these muscle groups.

In addition, when these muscle groups are weak, the upper trapezius muscle will compensate.  This can be observed by overdeveloped traps, unintended shrugging when lifting, or shrugged shoulders at rest.  Because of their constant use, the traps are prone to tension, knots, and trigger points. 

However, the only way to know what is contributing to tension, knots, and trigger points is to perform a movement assessment.

Once we know what the limitations are, our first recommendation that we usually make is to take a short break from aggravating activity. This allows for an environment for irritation to settle down.  While taking a break usually helps with pain, we know for our patients to get back to their favorite activities, we have to address the root of the issue.

When tension, knots, and trigger points are found via our assessment, our approach includes manual mobilization to alleviate pain and discomfort.  Pain improvements can be made very quickly with soft tissue mobilization and/or dry needling of the lat, upper trap, and rotator cuff muscles.

However, we know that for pain improvements to last, we need to develop strength.

If weakness is found, we teach activation exercises to help our clients better engage muscles that are not firing well.  Some of theses muscles include the lower trapezius, infraspinatus, lats, and serratus anterior. Once pain is controlled and muscles engage better, our next step is teaching our patients proper movement mechanics.

Finally, to keep tension, knots, and trigger points from becoming a recurring problem, we need to develop strength and durability through resistance exercise.  We like one-armed kettlebell exercises because they teach the body how to stabilize on off-center object and engage many stabilizing muscles at once.

When addressed with a thorough physical therapy assessment and plan of care, resolving tension, knots, and trigger points is possible. However, any sort of repetitive activity with poor mechanics can cascade into more problems down the road.  If you have tension, knots, and trigger points and want a long term solution, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to be a resource for you. 

We have a free guide on relieving neck and shoulder pain that can give you further insight into tension, knots, and trigger points and help kick start your recovery.  We are available for a free 15-minute phone consultation to talk about how your pain is affecting you and discuss your treatment options.

If your concerns warrant an in-person consultation, we offer a limited number of free Discovery Visit’s at our office.  This type of appointment of for those who are interested in getting tension, knots, and trigger points behind them.  It is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your condition, and develop confidence that we can help you. 

If you’re certain that we’re a good fit and ready to book an appointment, you can inquire about cost and availability and get the process started.

If you’re in pain and unsure about what your next steps should be, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.

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