Myofascial Pain Syndrome (muscle knots, muscle pain) is often misdiagnosed as a more serious back problem – misalignment of the hips, a herniated or bulging disc, or sciatica, just to name a few. Luckily, most cases of chronic back pain are not nearly as serious as they seem (or feel). More often than not the pain is actually being caused by ‘trigger points’, also known as muscle knots.
If you’re new to trigger points (TrPs) then you’re probably thinking something like ‘No way! My pain is real, horrible, crippling back pain and my doctor said I have a herniated L5 lumbar disc that’s putting pressure on my sciatic nerve and that is what’s causing it. My pain is definitely NOT caused by a simple muscle knot! My pain is MUCH more serious!’ But before you move on to the next article looking for help with low back pain, neck pain, or sciatica, please give this article some attention.
I’ve been suffering from bad back pain, sciatic pain, and pain that feels like it’s just under my butt cheek, across my lower back, and into my hip, sometimes radiating down my right leg. This has been going on for a long time, several years, and the pain can be extreme sometimes. I’ve been ‘diagnosed’ with having a right side high hip with a backwards tilt on the right side as well, so it’s easy to believe that my twisted hips are causing uneven pressure on the lower discs in my back, also putting pressure on my sciatic nerve.
At first it seems completely logical why I’d have such terrible, nagging back pain, but luckily I am now convinced that most of my pain is actually being caused by something much, much simpler… And easier to treat! Myofascial pain is looking more and more like the culprit behind my persistent back pain.
After a few trigger point therapy sessions and a lot of studying myofascial pain, I am fairly certain that the majority of my pain is actually being caused by nasty trigger points. My pain level seems to be going down after each trigger point therapy session. That’s right, simple muscle knots can cause an incredible amount of pain! Who woulda thunk it?!
Trigger points often mimick more serious injuries and can lead even the best physical therapists and chiropractors to give an incorrect diagnoses. The patient usually accepts the incorrect diagnoses because things like herniated discs, pinched nerves, and improper alignment sound like they would hurt, while muscle knots don’t sound all that painful. Usually trigger points go untended and they are actually the true cause of most chronic back pain.
I’m not saying that herniated discs, sciatica, and improper alignment are nonexistent, they certainly are real and they happen more often than they should, but often if the injury doesn’t seem to heal after a few weeks it’s because of trigger points, not an injury that won’t heal. Our bodies are designed to heal from injury, and pain is supposed to alert us to something that’s not quite right with our bodies. Unfortunately, muscle knots can hurt an awful lot, and they mimick the effects of other back injuries… Leading the patient and doctor to both believe the pain is coming from something other than muscles.
Luckily, once a person becomes aware of trigger points and how to treat them their pain often becomes much more bearable or even nonexistent. After a few weeks of trigger point work much of the pain can be completely eliminated. Some people even get instant relief after only one or two sessions! And the best part about finding out about trigger points is finding out that they are easy to treat, even on your own at home.
There is one absolutely fantastic tutorial about trigger points and back pain and it’s available at SaveYourself.ca. It’s an ebook, so you can only read it on the website, you don’t actually get a physical copy of the book, but I highly recommend it if you’re interested in learning about trigger points and how to treat them. Paul’s writing style in the tutorial makes it an easy and even entertaining read and it’s the best resource I’ve ever found for trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome information and self-treatments. There is also a really good book called the Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. You can find out more about that book in the back pain books portion of this website.
More trigger point info coming soon!