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Are Trigger Points Causing your Neck and Upper Back Pain?

Posted Nov 11 2009 10:00pm

A few years ago, a patient brought in a funny looking tool that looked like a cane with knobs. At first appearance I could not figure out what the purpose of this "tool" was. My patient demonstrated to me how this device helped work on her trigger points and she excitedly explained  how it gave her a lot relief from tight muscles in her upper back, muscle spasms and tender points that she could not reach on her own. I was definitely intrigued.

A big part of your neck pain often involves muscles and tendons. While putting the spine in alignment takes pressure off of nerves and helps the body heal, loosening tight muscles will help the spine stay in healthy alignment. The same is true for muscle spasm or muscular trigger points (adhesions in the muscle fibers that feel like a knot in the muscle). Often times these trigger points are tender to touch and sometimes they may even cause a pain elsewhere in the body- aka A Referred Pain. For example, in the last Neck Pain Support Blog Post I discussed the SCM muscle in the neck - Trigger points in this muscle refer to the forehead, above the eye, into the back of the head and behind the ear.

Backnobber for Muscle Trigger Point Self Treatment Many of our patients ask, “what can I do at home to relieve my muscle tension”? Along with getting a good neck pillow for alignment, I often recommend muscle massage  or trigger point therapy. Two great tools that you can use at home to do this are called the TheraCane Home Massager Tool and the BackNobber II for muscle trigger point self treatment. Both are available at

Certain times, you can use the tip of your fingers or knuckles (with some pressure) to massage reachable areas of your neck and back; sometimes even lying on a tennis ball and rolling it around on the muscle tight spots will help relieve tension and remove pain. However, it is often hard to get to certain areas of the back such as the paraspinal muscles. Also, you may not be able to apply as much pressure as you would like to get relief.  Using the Theracane or the Backnobber is literally like having an extra set of hands to help you get the “knots” out of your back muscles. These units apply pressure to sore muscles and trigger points. This can aid in reducing tension and pain in the muscles, increase range of motion and restore overall function. When you do use a home massage tool, keep in mind that when you press on that tender trigger point, stay on that point for a few minutes.

Using one or both of these massage tools will make a huge difference in how you feel. You can get a deep massage to the hard to reach areas, save your hands, and finally break up those muscle knots that are causing more pain and contributing to poor posture and spinal alignment.- NJ TheraCane Self Massaging Device

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