Muscle Spasms and Trigger Points

Although chiropractic primarily focuses on optimizing your bodies central nervous system, we cannot ignore the importance the muscles and other soft tissue play in our daily life. Muscles are what the nerves are sending signal to so if they are not functioning properly we quickly start moving different which can cause stress on the body. 

How the body works

When your body has a desire to do something the limbic system which controls basic desires (ie. hungry) sends a message to the Motor Control Center. Then the Cerebral Cortex which control motor function tell the body which way to move. This information is passed from the brain through a complex series of nerves to activate the muscle in a specific pattern that allows you to complete a task. 

When There's a problem

 Muscles are made up many different strands that shorten as we contract. Adhesions and trigger point form between the fibers.

Muscles are made up many different strands that shorten as we contract. Adhesions and trigger point form between the fibers.

The body learns very quickly.  Let's say you are carrying something heavy but your arm isn't quite strong enough. Your brain will automatically engage other muscles to help you complete the task. This becomes a problem when we are doing things like driving a car or working at a computer. If the body gets tired, but there is a task to do, it will start to find other ways to complete the task. 

Cumulative TRauma

Now that you know how the body functions, it is a little easier to understand how muscle spasms and trigger points develop. Humans are creatures of habit. We find a system that works and we repeat it to get the outcome we desire. This becomes a problem if we don't ever break that cycle, or worse, when the body is so used to that cycle it cannot be unbroken without external help. 

Injury Cycle.gif

The image to the left shows that happens when a muscle is injured or overused. The body's natural healing power is to send blood, which carries nutrients, to the injured area. The problem with that process is blood also carries something called fibroblasts. Fibroblasts will stick to the muscle and adhere the little strand of muscle together. This is where the term adhesion comes from. When a muscle gets to this state it becomes weak and tight and will cause friction, pressure and tension which in turn continues the cycle. 

Referring Pain

One of the most difficult things in dealing with muscle spasms and trigger points is they can mimic nerve pain and can also refer pain to other locations in the body. Dr. Janet Travell was the White House Physician (and first ever female appointed to this position) for John F. Kennedy. She spent the majority of her career studying trigger points and wrote manuals that still used today. 

How do we treat this

Treating muscle spasms and trigger points requires a great deal of diagnosis and a proper examination. Once the dysfunctional muscle pattern is identified a proper treatment protocol can be initiated. This may include Active Release Techniques(R), therapeutic exercises or stretches, electric muscle stimulation or others. 

If you have questions about muscle spasms or trigger point, please give us a call at (518) 584-9500 to set up a free consultation.