23 Aug Everything you need to know about trigger point injections
Painful muscle points, commonly called trigger points, are one of the most prevalent complaints. They can appear around the shoulders, neck, head, lumbar, and lower back. The pain disturbs daily life rhythm and deteriorates lifestyle.
Generally, a trigger point is determined when a muscle in a particular area of body contracts and is unable to relax. Then the blood flow can be disrupted, and the muscles become painful. Moreover, trigger points can sensitize and spread pain to other parts of the body. For example, a headache may be caused by a trigger point on your neck, lower back, or shoulders.
Injections may be used for treating the trigger points. During this procedure, the pain specialist injects a mixture of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs.
WHEN ARE INJECTIONS TO TRIGGER POINTS USED?
Injections are used to reduce pain, especially in the arms, legs, lower back, or neck. They can also be used to treat fibromyalgia, painful headaches, and myofascial (connective muscle tissue) pain. The myofascial pain is a severe pain that occurs in the muscles and fascia and can cause local pain that disturbs movements. It is usually a result of deformation, injury, or prolonged contraction of an excessive muscle or group of muscles. For example, myofascial pain can occur when you are in one position for a long time, such as reading or writing at a desk or computer, improper physical work, etc.
HOW IS THIS PROCEDURE PERFORMED?
Before the procedure, the pain specialist examines the patient’s condition and locates the painful area by pressing the muscles. Depending on the trigger point location, the patient sits or lies down during the procedure. The specialist inserts a small thin needle into the painful area and injects a mixture of anti-inflammatory and steroidal drugs. During an appointment, the specialist may make multiple injections to the trigger points. The procedure takes only a few minutes and does not require special preparation. In some cases, painful muscle points can sensitize the limbs of distant nerves, giving the impression that the pain is felt elsewhere in the body. In these cases, the pain physician may use ultrasound during the procedure to insert the needle into the exact source of pain and make the injection more effective.
WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED AFTER THE PROCEDURE?
After the injection into the trigger points, the patient may move the muscles actively. However, one should avoid strenuous physical activity for the first few days after the procedure. Immediately after it, the patient may feel slight soreness. Also, in some cases, it may take several days for the effect of anti-inflammatory drugs. The main benefits of injections into trigger points are muscle relaxation and pain reduction, which allows for further health improvement during physiotherapy sessions.
HOW MANY PROCEDURES MAY A PATIENT NEED?
During the first consultation, the pain specialist evaluates how many injections into the painful muscle points may be needed. Sometimes only one procedure is enough, but this is usually when a minor injury causes the trigger point. In other cases of chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome, injections can be applied repeatedly and regularly according to a treatment plan drawn up by your doctor.
WHEN CAN A PATIENT EXPECT THE RELIEF?
Many patients feel pain relief after the first procedure. In some cases, it may be necessary to make several injections to achieve the result. It is common to feel some soreness at the injection site for a few days after the procedure, and the injection site may be more sensitive. These sensations usually disappear after the first few procedures. Sometimes the patient may feel slight fatigue, as it may take some time for the muscle to return to normal. Pain specialists may recommend applying cold compresses on the injection site or taking mild painkillers.
It is also recommended to be consulted by a physical therapist after the injection into the trigger points to achieve the most effective treatment result.