anatomical musclular model with a red portion indicating low back pain, from trigger points

Low back pain is a very common, with the majority experiencing low back pain at some point in their lives. When assessing the low back, we consider mechanical causes of back pain (such as joint dysfunction), disc issues, age related changes and muscular origins of pain.

Trigger points are hypersensitive painful points in muscle, which are very commonly the source of non-specific, long term back pain. Local and referred pain can be elicited by active trigger points in the back and hip muscles – which can contribute to pain symptoms in non-specific low back pain [7].

More information about trigger points can be found here.

Research on Low Back Pain and Trigger Points

In research looking at patients with non-specific low back pain, it was found the number of active trigger points was associated with pain intensity and sleep quality [7].

Typically, there are predictable locations of trigger points. These points are either in a particular muscle, or around bony landmarks.

  • Quadratus lumborum: common source, often overlooked
  • Posterior Superior Iliac Spine (PSIS): trigger points often located close to this structure, within a 2 cm radius.
  • Piriformis: the sciatic nerve is in this area, so any time sciatic pain is reported, piriformis should be assessed
  • Gluteus minimus: pain often reported on the outside of the thigh
Musculoskeletal model highlighting trigger points in the quadratus lumborum muscle, which are common in low back pain
anatomical model of the locations of common trigger point in low back pain
Musculoskeletal model highlighting trigger points in the piriformis muscle, which are common in low back pain
Musculoskeletal model highlighting trigger points in the gluteus minimus muscle, which are common in low back pain

When you’re assessed by the physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists or naturopath at Absolute Health and Wellness, they will assess you for trigger points.

Treating Trigger Points with Dry Needling

Trigger points can be effectively treated with a special form of acupuncture called Trigger Point Acupuncture or dry needling.

This involves repeatedly inserting an acupuncture needle into a trigger point. This is an effective, safe way to treat trigger points. Click here to learn more about trigger points and here for how acupuncture can help.

Click here to book in for dry needling.


Trigger points are commonly found in patients with long term back pain. If you’ve been dealing with long term back pain, make sure you get trigger points assessed for and treated if applicable.

Interested in learning more?

Read on in our series of articles on Low Back Pain!


About the Author - Sonia Gashgarian

woman facing camera

Sonia Gashgarian is a registered physiotherapist who graduated with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Toronto. Prior to this she completed her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with Honours from the University of Waterloo. Sonia has completed courses in sports taping and basic kinesio-taping, as well as the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy and Mulligan Concept. She also has her APTEI Acupuncture and Dry Needling Certification.

Sonia uses a variety of treatment techniques to help clients feel better and return to their regular activities as soon as possible. Her individualized treatments may include the following: education, joint mobilizations, exercise prescription, soft tissue release, trigger point release, taping, acupuncture and dry needling, cupping, and Gua Sha.

To book in please call us at (519) 442-2206 or click here.

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