Trigger points are tight knots of muscle in your neck, shoulders, or back that make movement painful and difficult. We have some suggestions you can use at home to relax tense muscles without delay.
When neck or back pain strikes, you want relief quickly. One of the causes of neck and back pain is a trigger point: a dense tight knot in the tissue of the diamond-shaped trapezius muscle supporting the upper back, shoulders, and neck. If you feel a bump of tense tissue that radiates pain when you press down on it, you have probably just located the trigger point that is giving you trouble. We’ve brought together some trigger point treatments to help you when the pain strikes.
Home trigger point treatments
There are a number of steps you can take at home to relax the muscle and ease the pain.
- If pain flares up right after activity, use an ice pack to reduce inflammation. If achy soreness persists over a period of time, or if you wake up with sore muscles, try applying a heating pad to help ease muscle tightness.
- Massaging the trigger point may loosen the knot and encourage the muscle to relax.
- Anti-inflammatories can relieve muscle pain.
- Pay attention to activities that aggravate the trigger point, and avoid problematic actions if you can. If an uncomfortable workspace is contributing to muscle tension, try a more ergonomic desk chair. Keep in mind that trigger points can be a response to mental as well as physical stress.
- Adjust your routine to include aerobic exercises that engage neck and shoulder muscles. A set of jumping jacks, stretches, or swimming can stretch and warm the trapezoid muscles, easing muscle tension.
When to see a doctor
Most neck pain clears up within a few days or weeks. If your trigger points don’t respond to home treatments, it’s time to contact your Summit back specialist for medical evaluation and treatment. Summit Orthopedics is home to the area’s top spine specialists for trigger point treatment. If left untreated, the problems caused by muscle strain and stress can become cumulative, so it’s always better to treat pain sooner rather than later. Frequently, a program of physical and massage therapy, with trigger point injections as needed, can target and relax stubborn trigger points and put you on the road to recovery.
Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise
Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.
Start your journey to a healthy spine. Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a spine consultation.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
Spine related resources
- Visit our Spine Exercise Library for options to help ease neck and back pain
- See Summit’s treatment options for neck, back, and spine care
- Check out additional information on Summit’s approach to spine care
More resources for you
- Read the article How do Trigger Points Lead to Neck Pain?