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What are trigger point injections?
Trigger point injections can help relieve myofascial pain in the neck, shoulder, arms, legs, and lower back.
Trigger points are painful “knots” in your muscles that are extremely sensitive to touch and pressure. They can arise as a result of acute trauma or recurrent micro-trauma, which causes stress on muscle fibers. It causes the muscle fibers to become constrained. When you rub your muscle, you might sometimes feel these knots.
Local anesthetic injections with or without corticosteroid, botulinum toxin, or any other injectable material are routinely used in trigger point injections (dry needling).
What are trigger point injections used for?
Trigger point injections are used by healthcare providers to treat myofascial pain. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “fascial” refers to fascia. The fascia is the thin, white connective tissue that wraps around every muscle in your body.
Myofascial pain and discomfort are usually caused by one or more trigger points. Trigger points feel like little lumps, nodules, or knots in your muscle when touched.
Trigger points can develop in any muscle, but the most commonly treated muscle groups using trigger point injections are:
- Masseter (a muscle in your jaw).
- Scapular levator (a muscle on the sides of your neck).
- The Gluteus Medius (a muscle in your hip).
- lumborum quadratus (a deep muscle in your low back).
- Trapezius (the muscle reaching over the back of your neck and shoulders) (the muscle extending over the back of your neck and shoulders).
- Sternocleidomastoid (a muscle in the front of your neck) (a muscle in the front of your neck).
- Temporalis (a muscle on the sides of your skull) (a muscle on the sides of your head).
Trigger points can produce various forms of pain or problems. Trigger points in your trapezius muscle, for example, can induce tension headaches. A trigger point in your piriformis muscle (a buttocks muscle) can induce piriformis syndrome, which occurs when the piriformis muscle presses on your sciatic nerve. It produces buttock pain and numbness down the back of your leg.
Who needs to have a trigger point injection?
If previous therapies, such as over-the-counter pain medication, heat therapy, massage therapy, myofascial release, and physical therapy, have not relieved your trigger point discomfort, a trigger point injection may be correct for you.
To relieve pain, providers generally combine trigger point injections with physical therapy and stretching exercises.
This method is especially useful when a trigger point injection is used to relieve pain in persons who are unable to undertake physical therapy or stretching owing to severe discomfort. Physical therapy may be more effective with trigger point injections.
Before recommending a trigger point injection, your healthcare professional will need to undertake a complete physical exam and rule out other probable reasons of your discomfort, such as:
- Muscle tension.
- Pain has structural reasons.
- Back discomfort caused by problems with your spinal column, such as degenerative arthritis, a herniated disk, or spinal stenosis.
- Radiculopathy (pain from a pinched nerve) (pain from a pinched nerve).
How common are trigger point injections?
Myofascial discomfort and trigger points are quite common, affecting around 85% of people at some point in their lives.
Many primary care physicians and pain specialists commonly diagnose and treat myofascial pain, which may include trigger point injections, physical therapy, and stretching exercises.
What do I need to do to prepare for a trigger injection?
Nothing needs to be done to prepare for a trigger point injection. However, as with any form of treatment, it is critical to consult with your provider about your existing medications, symptoms, and overall health before undergoing the surgery.
What happens during a trigger point injection procedure?
During a trigger point injection process, you can expect the following:
- You may be sitting or lying down on an exam table, depending on the position of the trigger point.
- Your healthcare professional will use an alcohol pad to clean the afflicted area of your skin.
- Your provider may use a skin marker to designate the trigger point.
- Once your physician has felt the trigger point, they will pinch it between their fingertips to stabilize the tissue. This may be unsettling.
- They’ll place a small needle attached to a syringe into the trigger point and needle the area rhythmically by inserting and retracting the needle repeatedly without completely removing the needle from the muscle or your skin.
- You’ll probably experience a muscle spasm or twitch. Your therapist will continue to move the muscle in numerous directions until the twitching stops or the muscle feels sufficiently relaxed.
- Your provider will next inject a local anesthetic with or without corticosteroid or botulinum toxin into the affected area.
- The surgery will be completed, and you will be allowed to return home.
How painful is a trigger point injection?
Trigger points are often uncomfortable to the touch, so you may feel some discomfort while your healthcare professional manually locates the trigger point prior to injection.
When your provider inserts the needle and medication, you may experience stinging and burning sensations. When the needle tip reaches the trigger point, you may experience a transient increase in pain. Although this may be painful, it is a positive indication that the needle is in the right place.
What to expect after a trigger point injection
After a trigger point injection, you can go home and resume normal activities with the affected muscle. You should, however, avoid intense exertion for the first few days.
Trigger point injection benefits
Trigger point injections are generally safe and can provide pain relief to patients who have been suffering from trigger point discomfort and have not received relief from more conservative therapies such as over-the-counter pain medication or physical therapy.
Depending on which muscle is damaged, trigger point injections can also significantly enhance range of motion and general muscular performance.
trigger point injection side effects and risks
In general, trigger point injections are safe and have a low risk of consequences. Temporary soreness or numbness near the injection site is the most typical adverse effect. Your doctor may advise you to take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®) to address this. Ice packs can also be applied to injection sites to lessen the risk of bruising.
Trigger point injection complications, which are uncommon, can include the following:
- Allergic reaction to the anesthetic agent.
- Vascular (vein) injury.
How long do trigger point injections last?
Pain alleviation usually begins between 24 and 72 hours after the trigger point injection therapy. Typically, pain alleviation lasts about a month. If you’re still in pain after this period, your doctor may recommend further injections to provide long-term pain relief.
When should I see my healthcare provider?
Contact your healthcare practitioner if you’ve had a trigger point injection and are suffering signs of infection, such as a fever or warmth at the injection site.
What are trigger point injections? Trigger point injections can help relieve myofascial pain in the neck, shoulder, arms, legs, and…