A trigger point injection is used to treat the pain, inflammation, swelling, and discomfort of a localized place in a muscle. The injections can be used in any muscle, but are most commonly given to treat pain in your arms, back, buttocks, or legs. If you suffer from tension headaches, trigger point injections may be given in your temple or at the base of your skull as a way to relieve the pressure. Trigger point injections may also be used for chronic muscular disorders such as myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia
How a Trigger Point Injection Procedure Works
In the trigger point injection procedure, our doctors insert a small needle into your trigger point. The needle delivers a small amount of a local anesthetic. This medication numbs and relaxes the trigger point, helping to reduce inflammation and swelling in the area. The injection could also contain saline or a corticosteroid. These medications are designed to provide rapid relief of inflammation in a muscle, ligament, or tendon.
After the injection, the trigger point is inactivated and the pain goes away. The procedure is done in our doctor’s office and only takes a few minutes. You can have several trigger points taken care of during a single office visit. If you have a medication allergy, a dry needle technique can be used by our doctors.
Preparing for a Trigger Point Injection
When you are planning to receive a trigger point injection, you may wish to ask our doctors which medications will be used in your injections. You may also ask about which technique will be used. You can eat and drink normally on the day of your procedure. If you are afraid of needles, you may wish to have someone accompany you to your appointment. If your anxiety about needles is strong, you may ask our doctors about taking a medication ahead of time that will relax you.
If you need to take an anti-anxiety medication or a sedative in order to relax enough for the trigger point injection, you will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment. You will need to rest the affected muscles after the injection, so you may want to plan on taking the rest of the day off of work and having someone handle the housework and cooking for you at home.
Who is a Candidate for the Procedure?
If you have a specific painful point that still hurts and restricts your movement and flexibility despite applying heat and ice, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, stretching, or practicing stress reduction techniques, a trigger point injection may be helpful to you. Our doctors may also recommend a trigger point injection procedure if your trigger point elicits annoying symptoms such as a facial twitch, referred pain, or an overall increase in your sensitivity to pain. To receive a trigger point injection, you should be able to sit still in the exam room for a few minutes and be willing to rest your trigger points for at least 48 hours after the injection. If you have a condition such as acute muscle trauma, it is best to allow your body to heal before getting a trigger point injection.
What to Expect After a Trigger Point Injection
After you receive a trigger point injection from our doctors, pressure will be applied to the injection site for about two minutes. This allows your blood to flow through the area. The affected area will be palpated to check for any other painful trigger points. If our doctors find another trigger point in the same area, it can also be injected. After the two minutes of pressure, our doctors will show you how to gently stretch the muscle containing the trigger point. This stretching will facilitate the pain relief. You will move your muscle through its full range of motion about three times, with instructions given to you by our doctors. A simple bandage will be applied to each injection site. Pain relief should be nearly instantaneous. Avoid strenuous activities for three to four days after your injection.