Trigger Point Injection

Trigger points in muscles can cause pain elsewhere in the body. The trigger point is akin to a knot or tight area forming within the muscle tissue. This area of the muscle no longer relaxes, and you experience decreased range of motion. If you touch the affected area and you can feel the knot, it may occasionally twitch. You may certainly feel the often excruciating pain.

If more conservative therapies have failed, a trigger point injection may offer muscle pain relief. You should consult with your doctor about whether your back issues make you a candidate for trigger point injections.

Causes

Any time a muscle is held for too long in an unusual position, it is ripe for the development of a trigger point. Common trigger point causes include:

  • Bad posture
  • Hours sitting at the computer
  • Constant phone use with head and neck at an awkward angle
  • Long periods of sitting in an uncomfortable chair
  • Lifting
  • Sudden twists

Treatment Conditions

Besides knots in the major muscle groups, conditions that may respond to trigger point injections include:

Trigger points may also result from sports injuries or incorrect exercise. Emotional stress can also trigger a trigger point, as stressed individuals often involuntarily tighten muscles for considerable lengths of time. The neck and shoulders are especially vulnerable in stressful situations.

Referred Pain

Trigger points may spark referred pain, which is pain that occurs in a part of the body far from the trigger point. For example, a pain emanating from muscles in the neck may trigger pain in the eye. A trigger point in the back may cause pain in the leg. The trigger point has irritated nearby nerves, causing this pain chain reaction.

Besides a physical examination and medical history, trigger points are diagnosed via X-ray and/or computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.

Trigger Point Injection Procedure

The trigger point injection procedure is quite basic. No sedation is necessary for a trigger point injection, just a local anesthetic and a steroid into the site. The anesthetic provides the numbing effect, while the steroid acts as an anti-inflammatory.

The doctor palpates the affected area to locate the trigger point. Since multiple points are common, each is identified with a marker. The skin is cleansed for the injection, and the injections take place. Band-aids are placed over each injection site.

Aftercare

Some patients feel better immediately, while others may not feel any effect for several days. The time period for pain relief also varies, with some patients experiencing pain a few weeks post-treatment, and others feeling fine for many months.

Trigger point injections may be repeated, but not for at least two months after the initial series. Doctors may recommend related massage or physical therapy after treatment with a trigger point injection.

There are no restrictions after trigger point injections. As with any injection, there is always a risk of swelling or bruising at the site. Activity is generally encouraged, as movement may spread the injected drug through the muscle.

Talk to a Doctor

If you are suffering from a condition that may benefit from a trigger point injection, contact a skilled doctor for examination and to discuss your options.