Trigger points are formed when the muscle is tense and inflamed for extended periods of time.
The medical term trigger point refers to a very focused area of a skeletal muscle that causes pain and muscle spasms. These are often located in the upper and lower portions of the back but they can also form in other areas of the body.
The tense muscle often forms a knot that can be felt, but not all trigger point sites have knots associated with them.
What Are Trigger Point Injections?
Trigger point injections are injections of medication directly to the site of the muscle that is causing pain. These injections don’t always include the same medications but they often include a local anesthetic, a corticosteroid or a combination of the two. In fact, not all trigger points use medication at all. Some studies have suggested that dry-needling the trigger point site produces benefits beyond placebo. The medication, or lack thereof, that the physician selects will likely depend on the cause of the trigger point.
What Are These Injections Used To Treat?
Generally, these injections are used to treat the symptoms of pain and muscle spasms that are caused by long-term muscle stress. This type of muscle stress can be caused by a number of medical conditions such as myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, and chronic migraines. The main condition for this treatment is that this pain must be chronic and currently active. Some trigger points become latent over time, but these injections are not intended for inactive sites. Additionally, it is important to note that this treatment relieves pain in a specific location. Therefore, if a patient has fibromyalgia with widespread pain and they have a trigger point, the injection may help relieve the pain from the trigger point, but it won’t address the widespread nerve pain associated with fibromyalgia.
How Are Trigger Point Injections Performed?
In most cases, the trigger point injection procedure is relatively simple and quick. Since this procedure doesn’t require specialized equipment, it will just be performed in the clinic or office itself. They are usually either performed during an appointment or scheduled in advance for a separate time. When the procedure date arrives, the patient will simply lie or sit on a table. Then the medical staff will prepare the injection site by sterilizing the skin and then applying a topical anesthetic. The physician will then insert the needle and inject the medication to the trigger point site directly. The site will then be covered with an adhesive bandage. It is possible for the physician to treat more than one trigger point in one appointment, in which case the procedure will just be repeated.
What Is The Recovery Process?
After the injection is performed, the patient will be free to leave as they feel comfortable. It is fairly common for the patient to experience soreness at the injection site. However, this is usually mild enough that applying ice or heat and taking over-the-counter pain relief medications will alleviate it. Over the next couple of days, the patient should begin to experience pain relief at the trigger point site.