Young physiotherapist doing a trigger point injection in patient back.

Understanding Trigger Points and Their Impact on Pain

Dry needling—a specialized technique offered by experts at NeuroMuscular Strategies in Boulder, Colorado. Similar to acupuncture but with a distinct focus, dry needling targets and releases trigger points, providing rapid pain relief and enhanced muscle function. By understanding trigger points and the benefits of dry needling, you can embark on a journey towards a pain-free and active lifestyle. Discover the path to relief and liberation from trigger point-related pain.
Young physiotherapist doing a trigger point injection in patient back.

If you’ve ever experienced persistent muscle pain, you may have encountered trigger points without even realizing it. Trigger points are a common source of discomfort, and understanding them can be the key to finding relief. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of trigger points, exploring how they develop, their impact on pain, and how dry needling can effectively target and release them, providing much-needed pain relief.

What Are Trigger Points?

Trigger points, often referred to as muscle knots, are tight bands of muscle fibers that can develop in various parts of the body. These points are highly sensitive and can cause pain when pressure is applied. They typically form in response to muscle overuse, trauma, or injury. Trigger points can develop in both skeletal muscles (muscles that move your body) and in muscles responsible for various functions, such as breathing or digestion.

How Do Trigger Points Develop?

Trigger points can develop for several reasons, including:

  1. Muscle Overuse: Engaging in repetitive motions or maintaining a fixed posture for extended periods can lead to muscle overuse, resulting in the formation of trigger points.
  2. Injury or Trauma: Accidents, falls, or sports-related injuries can cause muscle fibers to contract and develop trigger points.
  3. Stress and Tension: Emotional stress can manifest as physical tension in the body, leading to the development of trigger points, particularly in the neck and shoulders.
  4. Lack of Movement: Prolonged periods of inactivity, such as sitting at a desk for hours, can also contribute to the development of trigger points.

Impact of Trigger Points on Pain

Trigger points are notorious for causing localized and referred pain. Localized pain occurs at the site of the trigger point itself, where you may feel tenderness, stiffness, or aching sensations. Referred pain, on the other hand, is pain felt in a different area of the body from where the trigger point is located. This can make identifying the source of pain challenging.

For example, a trigger point in the shoulder muscles may refer pain to the neck, causing headaches or discomfort in the upper back. Similarly, trigger points in the lower back muscles can refer pain down the leg, mimicking symptoms of sciatica.

Dry Needling: Targeting and Releasing Trigger Points

Dry needling is a therapeutic technique that involves inserting thin needles, similar to acupuncture needles, directly into trigger points within the affected muscles. Unlike acupuncture, which focuses on balancing energy flow, dry needling aims to release muscle tension and alleviate pain.

Here’s how dry needling works:

  1. Identifying Trigger Points: A skilled physical therapist, such as those at NeuroMuscular Strategies in Boulder, Colorado, will first locate the trigger points responsible for your pain.
  2. Inserting the Needle: Using a sterile, single-use needle, the therapist inserts it into the trigger point. This may cause a twitch response in the muscle, which is a sign of the trigger point releasing.
  3. Pain Relief: As the trigger point releases, blood flow to the area improves, and the muscle relaxes. This can lead to reduced pain and increased mobility.

Benefits of Dry Needling

Dry needling offers several benefits for individuals dealing with trigger point-related pain:

  1. Pain Relief: Dry needling can provide rapid relief from both localized and referred pain associated with trigger points.
  2. Improved Range of Motion: By releasing muscle tension, dry needling can enhance your ability to move more freely and comfortably.
  3. Enhanced Healing: The improved blood flow to the treated area can promote healing and tissue repair.
  4. Complementary to Physical Therapy: Dry needling can be used in conjunction with other physical therapy techniques to address musculoskeletal issues comprehensively.


Understanding trigger points and their impact on pain is essential for those seeking relief from persistent discomfort. If you’re dealing with trigger point-related pain in Boulder, Colorado, consider reaching out to the experts at NeuroMuscular Strategies. Their skilled physical therapists can assess your condition and determine if dry needling is a suitable treatment option for you. Don’t let trigger points hold you back from a pain-free and active life—explore the possibilities of dry needling and experience the relief you deserve.

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