Muscle Spasms or Trigger Points, Which Is It?

Whether you are experiencing muscle spasms or more local trigger points doesn’t really matter, both of them are a pain.  The reason why it is important to know about these muscular conditions is that they may be mistaken for other issues and other symptoms may mimic these.

neck pain

If you don't want this type of thing, read this and the other articles regarding neck pain on our site.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I’d suggest you visit with your favorite and trusted local health care practitioner to determine the exact nature of your complaints.  You don’t want to rely on information you read on our site or others as a means of ‘self-diagnosing’ health conditions, though it can be useful information to bring up with your doctor.

photo credit

So, what is the difference between muscle spasms and trigger points, anyway?  Well, not much, really.  Spasms and muscle cramping can be the result of a host of reasons.  One of the most common ways of experiencing cramping is due to dehydration. Luckily, this is also one of the simplest and easiest remedies.  It will not help you once you’ve got the cramps, prevention is key here.  However, if you are cramping, stretching and hydrating are still important to recover properly.  This type of cramping is more common in the peripheral muscles or those in the limbs, most notably in the legs.

If you’re experiencing back spasms or muscular tension in the muscles around the spine, there is a more common reason for this than fluid or electrolyte imbalance.  You see, the muscles around the spine – especially the smaller core spinal stabilizing muscles – have nerve fibers coming to them from a branch of your autonomic nervous system.  This branch is responsible for the whole ‘fight or flight’ or ‘adrenaline response’ you may be familiar with or have heard of. This innervation allows your muscles to tighten or ‘spasm’ in preparation for fighting or running away.

We’ve developed this mechanism as a way of dealing with life-threatening situations.  However, now, humans use this same mechanism to deal with all sorts of stress – only some of which may actually be life threatening.  This response is healthy and desirable, so long as the threat is real.  However, when the threat is gone, we should not still have muscular tightness or tension.

The problem is that we do, all the time, in fact.  A great majority of my practice is filled with people that have muscular aches, spinal tension, headaches, back pain, fibromyalgia and a host of other stress-related symptoms and conditions.  Network Spinal Analysis happens to be a great option for assisting people to overcome these challenges and adapt more effectively moving forward in their lives.  Combined with somato-respiratory integration exercises this work gives people an amazing ability to recover.

Trigger points are just more local or focal points of muscular spasm.  There is still debate on exactly what is going on with them.  How or why exactly our bodies ‘create’ them is still somewhat of a mystery.  Treatment often consists of stretching, direct pressure or gentle heat in a more conservative approach.  Western medicine would have you inject them with something or another, no surprises there.

These focal points can be extremely tender and also lead to limitations in ranges of motion and create pain that is similar to that of a disc herniation with radiating pain.  The difference between herniated disc symptoms or pain and trigger point referred pain is that the trigger point often has a more diffuse pattern.  The nerve pattern is much more specific.  Your description should help your doctor determine which to address.

Sometimes, treating one will affect the other anyway.  This is so often the case.  Your body may be creating trigger points and muscle spasms in an attempt to stabilize and area of your spine that is injured or perceived to be unstable for whatever reason.  Whatever situation you are in, having your spine and nervous system functioning at their optimal level is important.  Contact us today to be properly evaluated and get back on the road to a pain free and flexible body again real soon.


Tags: , ,