What are Trigger Point Injections?Trigger point injections are a treatment for trigger point pain. Trigger points are bands of muscles that get knotted up, leading to discomfort and pain in the region. This treatment has also been shown to be beneficial for fibromyalgia and myofascial pain. Often, a trigger point won't cause pain in the region of the knot. It may instead cause what's called referred pain. For example, a trigger point in the shoulder may cause pain in the lower back or in the neck. A trigger point injection isn't typically the first line of defense against chronic pain. But if other treatments like heat or cold therapy, OTC pain medications, physical therapy, and bed rest don't work, your physician may instead recommend trigger point injections. These are a less invasive and inexpensive alternative to surgical intervention. The injection itself is made of an anesthetic such as lidocaine combined with a corticosteroid to help reduce inflammation in the area. This mixture is injected into the knotted muscle band to alleviate the pain. While the injection doesn't treat the problem directly, it does relieve the discomfort while your pain management specialist administers other treatments. Direct treatments for trigger points include stretching the knotted muscle group. Your specialist may also suggest exercises to help strengthen the muscle group to avoid developing trigger points in the future. If you're allergic to the medications typically used in this procedure, your physician may perform dry needling. In this case, nothing is injected into the trigger point. Instead, only the needle is inserted, which is also effective for trigger point pain.
What to Expect During a Trigger Point InjectionWhen you head in to see a pain management physician, they'll examine you for trigger points. They usually press around the painful region, searching for the source of the pain or twitch. After sanitizing the area, the specialist will inject the anesthetic into the trigger point. If you have more than one trigger point, these areas will be treated, too. A trigger point injection procedure typically lasts less than 30 minutes. However, if you're receiving treatment for multiple trigger points, the time of the procedure may increase.
Recovering from Trigger Point InjectionsThe good thing about trigger point injections is that the recovery time is minimal for most people who receive the treatment. Post-trigger injection, patients most commonly complain about numbness and soreness in the injection region. In very rare cases, patients have developed a skin infection around the injection region. But as long as you keep the injection area clean and disinfected post-treatment, you won't have to worry about infection. Some people don't recover from trigger point pain after their first treatment. The pain may return when the anesthetic wears off. In that case, your specialist may recommend more injections or alternative treatment until you find relief.
Who Needs Trigger Point Injections?The majority of people who receive trigger point injections are suffering from back, neck, arm, and leg pain. But that's no to say people suffering from pain in other regions won't find relief from trigger point injections. If you suffer from pain and discomfort that makes it difficult to go about your daily life, you may benefit from trigger point injections. To determine whether you should go see a pain management specialist today, you should first identify the causes of your aches and pains.
What Causes Trigger Points?A trigger point forms when a muscle band doesn't fully relax after strenuous or repetitive activity. Trigger points are commonly caused by:
- Repetitive movements