FAQs on Trigger Point Injections
Trigger point injections are a viable option to treat referred pain and reduced functionality associated with muscle tenderness. These injections calm irritated nerves, take care of muscle weakness and improve the range of motion and posture.
What is a trigger point?
Trigger point refers to a tender, discrete, focal, hyperirritable, spastic or painful spot in the muscle. Felt like a knot or tight band when touched and triggers pain when compressed or pressed, the spot is a part of a muscle irritated due to stress, overuse or spinal issues. The pain gradually radiates to other areas causing impacting postures.
Trigger points appear on muscles due to traumatic tissue injury, underlying structural problem, spinal abnormalities, whiplash injury, degenerative disorders, viral syndrome, postural problems and excessive use of muscles.
What is trigger point injection?
Trigger point injection is administered to soothe muscle pain and functional bottlenecks associated with trigger points. It alleviates muscle spasm, tightness and pain and allows stiff muscles to relax and decompress.
What is used in trigger point injections?
Trigger point injections use a variety of medications to relieve muscle pain depending on intensity of pain, symptoms and the best possible response to treatment.
- Numbing medication, such as lidocaine or other local anesthetics
- A mix of numbing medication and steroid
- Corticosteroids, normal saline
- Botox injections
- A dry needling without any medication may also be done
How do trigger point injections provide relief?
A muscle with trigger points becomes rigid and does not relax as in normal conditions it is expected to do. This makes movements very painful. When the trigger point is compressed with touch or any motion, it emits pain sensation. Trigger point injections with numbing medications make the pain spot dormant and subdues pain sensation. When mixed with corticosteroids, the medication not only soothes the affected muscles, but also treats spasm and inflamed tissues. Botox injections paralyze the muscle to ensure that it does not feel the pinch when moved.
For best results, exercises focused on muscle strengthening and flexibility should be sued with these injections.
What are medical conditions treated with trigger point injections?
- Pain from trigger point syndrome
- Myofascial pain
- Neck pain
- Low back pain
- Tension headaches
How effective are trigger point injections?
Trigger point injections can assure up to 90 percent neck pain relief when Botox is used. For pelvic pain, the success rate is around 75 percent. The treatment method is very popular among patients with pain from myofascial problem, spasm linked to a pinched nerve and fibromyalgia associated with muscle problems.
How is a trigger point injection administered?
The patient is asked to sit or sleep in a reclining position suitable to inject medication to the trigger point. The skin above the spot is cleaned and numbed. A need is put through the soft tissues to reach the point and numbing medication alone or in combination with steroid is injected. Alternatively, doctors may choose Botox injections depending on the patient need.
One or multiple trigger point injections are administered at one sitting.
How long does the treatment take?
A trigger point injection requires 10 to 15 minutes.
How do I feel after having trigger point injections? Is there any precaution required?
Patients feel slight pain comparable to a blood draw when trigger point injections are administered. They are kept under observation for 30 minutes prior to be discharged. Rest is advised and patients are asked to use ice packs on the injection site to reduce inflammation and soreness. Stretching is important to overcome muscle stiffness after the procedure.
When can I expect pain relief?
Pain relief is immediate. But patients should wait for 2/3 days before the final result.
How long the impact lasts? How many trigger point injections do I need?
The benefits of trigger point injections last between a few days and months depending on patient condition and medication injected. Many patients receive a certain number of injections with a gap of one or two weeks. The gap increases and frequency gradually decreases with time.
Most of our patients experience pain relief at least for a month. This can be extended with rehabilitation therapies, such as stretching exercises, physical therapy, massage, acupuncture and muscle care.
What are side effects of trigger point injections?
Trigger point injections lead to temporary soreness for a day or two. Multiple injections at a time may cause slight dizziness for a few hours. Rare side effects, such as bleeding, allergy, infection and nerve damage, are mostly due to clinical errors that adverse reactions of these injections.
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Suh MR, Chang WH, Choi HS, Lee SC. Ultrasound-guided myofascial trigger point injection into brachialis muscle for rotator cuff disease patients with upper arm pain: a pilot study. Annals of rehabilitation medicine. 2014;38(5):673-681.
Saeidian SR, Pipelzadeh MR, Rasras S, Zeinali M. Effect of trigger point injection on lumbosacral radiculopathy source. Anesthesiology and pain medicine. 2014;4(4):e15500.
Alvarez DJ, Rockwell PG (February 2002). “Trigger points: diagnosis and management”. Am Fam Physician 65 (4): 653–60.