Trigger Point Injections
Trigger point injections are a treatment option for pain in areas that contain trigger points, or knots of muscle that form when muscles contract and will not relax. Trigger points may develop after injury or overuse of the affected muscle. They may also be caused by stress and anxiety. These trigger points may also irritate the nerves around them and therefore cause pain in other areas of the body. The chronic pain that is brought on by trigger points may result in a decreased range of motion in the affected muscle.
Candidates for Trigger Point Injections
Trigger point injections are most commonly used to treat pain in the neck, lower back, arms or legs. It may also be effective for patients who suffer from tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain or fibromyalgia. This treatment may also be used for patients with myofascial pain syndrome, a chronic pain condition in which trigger points develop in certain muscles and cause pain when touched. Patients with this condition often experience deep, aching pain in the affected muscle that worsens over time, as well as muscle and joint stiffness and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms can significantly affect a person's quality of life and should receive proper medical attention if they do not subside. Over time, patients with untreated myofascial pain syndrome may develop muscle weakness or fibromyalgia.
The Trigger Point Injection Procedure
A needle containing a local anesthetic and sometimes a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation is inserted into the trigger point to make it inactive and therefore alleviate the pain. The procedure typically takes between 15 and 20 minutes and is done in the doctor's office. Multiple sites may receive trigger point injections in one appointment, if necessary.
Risks of Trigger Point Injections
This procedure is considered very safe and has few side effects. In some cases, the patient may feel sore around the injection site for up to 2 days following the procedure, but ice usually relieves this problem. In most cases, patients may resume normal activity the day after the treatment. Trigger point injections not only relieve pain, but also loosen the muscles that are responsible for the pain to ultimately help with the rehabilitation process.