An amazing number of common aches and pains —and a variety of other puzzling physical symptoms — are caused by myofascial trigger points. In fact, trigger points are the primary cause of pain roughly 75 percent of the time and seem to be part of nearly every pain problem.
Trigger points are hyper-irritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable (you can feel them!) nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. An 'active trigger' point is one that refers pain either locally or to another location (most trigger points refer pain elsewhere in the body along nerve pathways).The painful point can be felt as a knot or band in the muscle, and a twitch response results from stimulation of the trigger point. Unexplained pain radiates from these points of local tenderness. Therapy can be applied directly to release the tension.
The part of a muscle fiber that actually does the contracting is a microscopic unit called a sarcomere. Contraction occurs in a sarcomere when its two parts come together and interlock like fingers. Millions of sarcomeres have to contract to make even the smallest movement. A trigger point exists when over-stimulated sarcomeres are chemically prevented from releasing from their interlocked state.
The drawing is a representation of several muscle fibers within a trigger point. It’s based on a microscopic photograph of an actual trigger point. This particular trigger point would cause a headache over your left eye and sometimes at the very top of your head.
Treatment of trigger points is best by manual pressure. The approach was pioneered by a respected fitness trainer, Bonnie Prudden and is known as “Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy”. A good Thai-style massage or Shiatsu will also help. Worst case, feel out the knot or nodule yourself (if you can reach it – many are in the back and buittocks) and apply pressure, not too much or too little.
For more info check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigger_point
Or look at the highly-respected, two-volume medical textbook, Myofascial Pain & Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. http://www.triggerpointbook.com/
This is based on decades of medical research by Janet Travell and David Simons.