Trigger Points and Carpal Tunnel – Your Pain Might Not Be
You have hand pain, or wrist pain, or even tingling. Is it in your thumb and index finger? Or in your ring finger and pinky? It makes your work uncomfortable and difficult. The pain even keeps you up at night. Before undergoing carpal deremios” point to tunnel release surgery or taking NSAIDS or other drugs that are associated with dangerous side-effects, you might want to see if your wrist, hand, or forearm pain (or all three) can be relieved by safer and more effective means, such as trigger point techniques you can do at home.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What is a trigger point?
- Possible causes of trigger points
- How to find trigger points on your own arms and hands
- How to self-treat for hand and wrist pain
- The role of self-care in hand pain prevention and treatment
WHAT ARE “TRIGGER POINTS?”
Trigger points are described as “hypersensitive nodules” in many books on massage therapy. While there are many, many volumes, articles and entire websites devoted to the subject, most of which include trigger point “maps” that show common locations of these points, a trigger point can develop in any muscle anywhere on the body.
A majority of these points are located near the ends of the muscles, where the muscle tissue is denser as it turns to tendon. Tendons are parts of muscles, essentially the ends of the muscles that attach to bones. Trigger points also tend to be located right in the thickest part, or “belly” of the muscle.
There are many theories about what a trigger point actually is. You’ve heard the term “knots” used to describe a sore spot on your shoulder or back where, when rubbed, there is a feeling of a lump or bump in the muscle as it is manipulated that often dissipates or eases with massage. This can also be a trigger point, whether or not it’s on any chart.
These bumps are thought to be spasms in the tissue. Tight muscles may compress blood vessels and cause blood to sit longer in the muscle. Some suggest that it is a lactic acid buildup, although recent studies show that lactic acid might help muscle recovery after exercise, not cause further injury.
Whatever it is, if something blocks fluid flow in a muscle enough to cause it to get bumpy and sore, or a muscle tightens in spasm, it hurts and we want to get rid of it.
The best explanation of trigger point I’ve heard described it as a hypersensitive (meaning it hurts a lot, especially when compressed) section of muscle that in all likelihood consists of muscle fibers with adhesions, meaning that because of repetitive overwork and perhaps some dehydration, the fibers and fiber bundles in the muscles adhere to each other, stick together, causing the “knot” and pain or dysfunction. Because muscle tissue is interconnected with other muscles, nerves, and organs via the fascial web, this pain may refer to other areas.
TRIGGER POINTS AND MUSCLE ANATOMY; ACTIVE TRIGGER POINTS
We don’t have the space here to discuss muscle anatomy in detail, but just be aware that muscles are made of smaller sections called “fascicles” which are basically bundles of muscle fibers. Fascicles are like steel cables, without the twist. The fibers, which are the wires in the steel cable analogy, instead of being twisted like those wires, are parallel to each other and slide back and forth against each other with each movement, separated by thin sheets of fascia.