Trigger Point Injections

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A trigger point injection can help relieve muscle pain in the arms, legs, lower back, and neck. Patients experiencing fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and myofascial pain may also benefit from treatment.


What Are Trigger Points?


Trigger points are painful “knots” in the muscles that form when a muscle remains tense. These knots may be felt when rubbing the muscle.

Common causes of trigger points include injury, strain from everyday activities, and body mechanics. Patients can develop trigger points in the buttocks, upper back, lower back, and neck.

Injecting small amounts of anesthetic and a steroid into a trigger point can provide pain relief.

Businesswoman-with-knot-in-her-neck-needing-trigger-point-injection
Digital-illustration-of-shoulder-pain-before-trigger-point-injection

Before The Procedure


To prepare for the procedure, patients will have to:

  • Arrange to have someone drive them home after the injection.
  • Tell their provider about all medicines they are currently taking, including pain medicine, blood thinners, and muscle relaxers.
  • Temporarily discontinue certain medication according to physician instructions.
  • Tell their physician about any allergies they may have, including allergies to pain medicine.

What to Expect During The Procedure


Depending on where the trigger point is located, patients will either sit or lie down for the procedure. The doctor will press on the patient’s muscle to locate the treatment area and mark the skin.

Then, the physician will insert a small needle into the area and inject a mixture of anesthetic and steroid. The needle will be pulled almost all of the way out and then pushed in again a few times until the muscle stops twitching or feels relaxed.

The physician will remove the needle, stretch the muscle area, and apply pressure to the injection site for two minutes. A bandage will be placed over the injection site to prevent bleeding and infection.

Patients may have several trigger points injected during one visit to their doctor’s office. The entire procedure typically takes a few minutes.

Syringe-and-vial-used-in-trigger-point-injection

After The Procedure


Some patients may experience pain relief right away. It is normal for some pain to return two hours later. An ice pack or over-the-counter pain medicine will be provided to help reduce pain.

Patients may feel sore in the injection site for a few days.

The physician will provide the patient with specific instructions to follow at home, or recommend physical therapy. In general, patients should try to stay active, but avoid strenuous activity for the first three or four days after the injection.

It is not recommended for patients to have more injections if they still have trigger point pain after two or three injections.

Potential Risks And Side Effects


The procedure is relatively safe with low risk of adverse effects. Potential side effects such as bleeding and infection at the injection site are uncommon. However, patients may have temporary soreness, bruising, or numbness at the injection site.

Patients should call their doctor if they experience:

  • Fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher
  • Any of the following in the treatment area:
    • Increased pain, swelling, tenderness, or redness
    • Skin irritation
    • Warmth, burning, or itching
  • Any new or unexplained symptoms

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