About Trigger Point Injections
A trigger point is a band of muscle that experiences pain when light pressure is applied to it. Trigger point injections are used to treat muscle/myofascial* pain located anywhere in your back and neck. These “muscle spasms” are initially a protective measure to guard the deeper structures of the spine when an injury occurs. As most pain conditions involving the spine have a muscle component, trigger point injections are used to treat muscle pain resulting from persistent spasms.
How do they work?
A spasm normally begins after an injury but may also be from chronic muscle irritation and stress. When a muscle spasms, blood flow to the muscle is decreased. This causes the spasm to continue and/or worsen, leading to a vicious cycle of increased muscle spasms, decreased blood flow and increased pain*. Trigger point injections increase blood flow to the injected muscle, allowing the muscle to relax, thereby alleviating the spasm. This condition is typically not fixed by surgery.
Before the injection, the locations of the trigger points in your muscles will be identified and marked. Your skin is then cleaned with alcohol swabs. A very tiny needle is inserted into the muscle bundle and the local anesthetic is injected when you begin to experience the pain in the muscle. Increased pressure or pain during the procedure is normal. However, if at any time the pain is too intense, please tell your provider to slow down your injection. There will be no steroid injected as this is not indicated to treat muscle spasms. After the injection, the needle is removed. This process is repeated until all trigger points are addressed, at which point the procedure is complete.
- Bleeding disorders/low platelet counts
- Medications that thin your blood
- Current infection
- Your symptoms have changed and/or improved
- Patient refusal
- Procedure not approved by your insurance
- Poorly controlled high blood pressure that may be giving you symptoms
- Allergies to the any of the medications that may be used
Potential risks and side effects
- Increased pain
- Allergic reaction to medications used to clean your skin and/or medications injected
- Puncture of the lung if done around the chest or back region
Length of pain relief
Your pain relief varies depending on multiple factors. Some patients may have permanent pain relief while others may not gain any relief from the procedure. Experiencing immediate relief after the procedure may indicate that your pain is coming from the specific muscles that were injected. However, muscle pain may continue until the deeper underlying source of the pain is addressed.
Frequency of treatment
Trigger Point Injections are typically repeated in 1-2 weeks if you have gained some relief from the initial procedure.
Length of procedure and appointment planning
The average length of the procedure is 5 minutes. Expect to be at the clinic no more than 15 minutes after you have been checked into the preoperative area. If you are a first time patient, expect to be at the clinic for about an hour. Please plan accordingly.