A trigger point injection may help alleviate muscle pain and treat tension headaches, fibromyalgia and myofascial pain.
Trigger points form when a muscle can’t relax, leading to painful “knots” that can be felt when the muscle is rubbed or massaged.
What Causes Trigger Points?
Trigger points may be caused by tearing large muscle groups while exercising, sleeping in the wrong position, poor posture, psychological stress and repetitive motions.
Benefits of a Trigger Point Injection
Trigger point injections may help relieve the symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia and headaches.
- Myofascial pain syndrome. This condition is characterized by pain responses being stimulated in seemingly unrelated areas, a phenomenon known as referred pain. Treatment options include pain relievers, antidepressants, sedatives and physical therapy. If these treatments fail to alleviate pain, a trigger point injection may help relax the tense muscles and interrupt the nerve signaling pathways that cause referred pain.
- Fibromyalgia. This condition affects the soft tissue and may cause symptoms such as pain and stiffness, headaches, digestive problems, poor sleep, daytime fatigue, symptoms of depression or anxiety and difficulty concentrating. An estimated 10 million Americans and 3-6% of the global population have this condition.
- Headaches. Headaches and migraines may be caused by trigger points in the shoulders, neck and head. Migraines are the third most common illness in the world, with more than four million adults experiencing chronic daily migraines.
Trigger point injections may offer improved range of motion and pain relief for individuals with chronic muscle pain.
Side Effects and Risks
A trigger point injection is a relatively safe procedure. Patients may experience soreness or numbness at the injection site, and lightheadedness or dizziness. Serious and rare complications include bleeding and infection at the injection site, muscle or nerve damage and collapsed lung. Ultrasound imaging is used to minimize the risk of serious complications
Who is a Candidate?
A trigger point injection may be a good option for patients who have not responded to other treatment, such as pain medication and physical therapy.
How to Prepare for the Procedure
Before the procedure, patients should speak to the physician about any over-the-counter medications, diabetes medicine, and blood thinners they may be taking. Patients may need to stop taking blood thinners and diabetes medication before the procedure. The patient will also need to let their physician know of any allergies they have that may cause an allergic reaction to the medication or anesthesia.
Patients experiencing symptoms of an infection should postpone the procedure.
What to Expect During a Trigger Point Injection Procedure
Depending on the location of the knot, the patient will either sit or lie down for the procedure. The physician will locate the knot by pressing on the muscle in pain. He or she will then insert a small needle into the knot and inject a mixture of anesthetic and steroid. Patients may receive several injections in one procedure to target multiple knots. The entire procedure lasts about ten minutes.
After the Procedure
Some patients may experience significant pain relief immediately after the injections, while others may need to wait a few days or weeks for their pain to subside.
Patients should avoid engaging in strenuous physical activity for a few days after the procedure but may use their muscle freely.