A Simple Guide to Using Trigger Point Injections to Relieve Muscle Pain
Are you one of the 50 million American adults who struggles with chronic pain?
If your pain is brought on by arthritis, a herniated disc, neuropathy, or another chronic health condition, you might be able to benefit from trigger point injections.
Never heard of this procedure before? Keep reading.
Everything you need to know about the trigger point injection procedure is explained below.
What Are Trigger Point Injections?
First things first, let’s clarify what the trigger point injection procedure is.
In order to define trigger point injections, we first need to define trigger points. Trigger points are simply small knots that form in the muscles or the connective tissue (also known as the fascia) that surrounds the muscles.
You might not realize you have these knots until someone presses on them – they’re often tender or painful to the touch.
The trigger point injection procedure involves the insertion of a needle through the skin and into these trigger points.
By doing this, physicians are able to deliver an anesthetic solution directly into the trigger point. This, in turn, forces the trigger point to relax.
Conditions Treated by Trigger Point Injections
Trigger point injections can treat the pain associated with a wide range of health conditions.
People who suffer from the following conditions frequently seek this treatment to relieve their pain and discomfort:
- Chronic pain
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated discs
- Spinal compression fractures
- Degenerative disc disease
A trigger point injection typically addresses pain in the arms, legs, neck, and lower back.
Ideal Candidates for Trigger Point Injections
Most people struggling with pain can benefit from trigger point injections. The following individuals are typically considered to be ideal candidates:
- Those who experience severe muscle spasms
- Those who have previously experienced trauma to the affected area
- Those who have a history of tension headaches or chronic muscle tension
Trigger point injections typically work best for people who experience pain and tension in a specific area, rather than those who experience widespread, non-specific pain.
To determine whether or not this treatment is suitable, physicians may perform an examination of the areas in which the patient experiences pain.
If they notice the presence of tender points or a “jump sign,” they may recommend injections. A “jump sign” is any kind of involuntary reaction to pain (flinching, wincing, crying out, etc.)
Are There Any Risks Associated with Trigger Point Injections?
In addition to being highly effective, trigger point injections are also very safe. The risk of complications is quite low.
In fact, the only side effects one typically experiences is some soreness or numbness at the site of the injection. In rare cases, an individual might experience bleeding or infection at the injection site.
The more serious side effects typically affect individuals who suffer from bleeding disorders or take anticoagulants.
The only people who should not receive these injections are pregnant women and patients at a higher risk of infection.
Those who are allergic to anesthetic agents also should not receive this treatment. These same individuals may be able to benefit from dry needling. This procedure involves inserting a needle without injecting any kind of solution into the trigger point.
Who Can Perform the Procedure?
A trigger point injection must be administered by a trained and qualified medical professional.
Several types of physicians are able to perform these injections, including the following:
- Family medicine doctors
All of these doctors can perform this treatment, but it’s typically offered in pain management clinics. Doctors who specialize in treating patients with chronic back, neck, or joint pain may also offer it.
If possible, try to seek out treatment from one of these individuals. They have more experience in caring for those who suffer from chronic pain.
What to Expect during the Procedure
It’s okay if the idea of trigger point injections makes you a bit nervous. Sometimes, knowing what to expect from a treatment can help put your mind at ease and give you the confidence you need going into the procedure.
During a typical session, the physician will insert a small needle into specific trigger points. The injection contains a local anesthetic solution. It may also contain a corticosteroid for additional pain relief and reduced inflammation.
The injection renders the trigger point inactive and forces the muscle to relax, relieving pain and tension.
Most of the time, the treatment takes just a few minutes. You may receive multiple injections at once.
After the injections, your physician will likely recommend that you perform stretching exercises. This will further enhance the results of the treatment.
How Much Downtime Is Required?
There is very little downtime associated with trigger point injections.
On the day of the injections, it’s best to limit your physical activity as much as possible. This is especially true if you experience any soreness at the injection site.
You should be able to get back to your regular activities (including stretching) the following day.
How Long Do Results Last?
The results of trigger point injections can last for several days or for several months depending on the severity of your pain. On average, the relief lasts for several weeks at a time.
Some patients receive just one round of injections and are totally fine from then on.
If you decide to continue receiving these injections, you’ll work with your physician to create a schedule so that you can get injections as often as you need.
Are You Interested in Trying This Procedure?
As you can see, there are lots of reasons to consider giving trigger point injections a try. They’re safe, effective, and come with very few risks.
Do you want to learn more about this procedure?
If so, contact us at Garden State Medical Center and schedule an appointment with one of our pain specialists today.
During your appointment, we’ll go over your symptoms and help you determine whether or not these injections are a good pain management option.