Trigger point injection is used to treat especially painful areas of a muscle, characterized by the presence of trigger points. Often caused by trauma or repetitive injuries, trigger points are areas of skeletal muscles that become inflamed, or knotted. They are most common on the upper back muscles, but can occur in the lower back and neck as well.
Trigger points will often take the form of a knot on the muscle, which will be extremely tender to the touch. They can also go along with chronic musculoskeletal disorders like lower back pain, fibromyalgia, and tension headaches. Trigger points can irritate the nerves around them, which causes the pain to be referred somewhere else on the body.
Used for pain management, trigger point injections are injections aimed directly into the trigger point. The injection can be an anesthetic for pain relief, a corticosteroid for anti-inflammatory purposes, or a mixture of both. Occasionally, a needle will be inserted into the trigger point with just saline inside (dry needle technique).
Before the injection, your doctor will locate the trigger point manually, as ultrasound or X-ray guidance is not usually necessary. Before the injection, the skin around the trigger point will be numbed, and then a small amount of anesthetic and/or anti-inflammatory will be injected into the muscle. If the patient is allergic to any of the medications typically injected, the dry needle technique can be used instead to relieve the pain. After the injection, the trigger point should be rendered inactive, and therefore, not cause you anymore pain.
Trigger point injections can be used to treat muscle areas in the neck, lower back, arms, and legs. They have also been successful in treating the symptoms of fibromyalgia and tension headaches. Symptoms associated with myofascial pain syndrome, or chronic pain in the tissues around the muscles, have also been alleviated with trigger point injections.
These injections are usually more successful in treating pain compared to oral medications, since the medicine is injected directly into the problem area. Depending on what medications were used during your trigger point injections, your pain relief may be temporary, or long lasting.
This nonsurgical method is typically utilized if physical therapy, exercise, or medications have not been successful in treating pain, and the patient does not want surgery. Your doctor can also use trigger point injections to accurately locate the source of your pain. Commonly, they will be used to diagnose facet or SI joint pain, in combination with imaging studies and a physical exam.
Please see a spine care specialist at the Florida Spine Institute and discuss whether you are a candidate for a trigger point injection.