FAQ’s on Trigger Point Injections
A trigger point is a knot which forms when a muscle fails to relax. A knot under the skin may be palpable and it may twitch, “trigger,” when touched. This trigger point irritates the surrounding nerves, thus causing pain. Trigger point injections are procedures used to treat these trigger points in muscles.
What conditions are treatable with this /how do you treat?
Conditions such as TMJ syndrome, back pain, fibromyalgia, pain in the arms legs or neck, episodic headaches, scar tissue, and muscle weakness. Trigger point injections are performed in the areas of the muscle that are causing pain. This is sometimes done in conjunction with other treatments to help achieve pain relief.
What are the expectations when a patient gets treatment?
Patients may experience bruising, soreness, or an increase in pain for a few days until the body has recuperated from the injections. Stretching exercises and the use of cold packs on the sore area will help reduce the discomfort.
Patients may feel relief immediately after the trigger point injection. The relief can last 4 – 12 hours or even days, until the medicine wears off.
If the patient had sedation, it may temporarily affect his or her reasoning skills and body coordination so the patient must avoid driving, operating machinery and drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours.
This procedure begins with the doctor marking the skin on the point to inject. The area of the skin is cleaned and a fine needle is inserted in to the trigger point area. When the needle reaches the trigger point, the patient feels a twitch.
If the pain is too much for the patient to handle during the procedure, the doctor will numb this area before continuing. The doctor will move the needle gently in different direction to treat the whole trigger point area.
The procedure usually takes 2 minutes. When finished, slight pressure is applied to stop the bleeding and a bandage may be applied. In-case of pain, cooling spray can be applied. The treated muscle may also need to be stretched.
How long do the treatment/injections last?
How long the treatment lasts varies from patient to patient. The desired effects of trigger point injections can last as little as a few hours for some patients, while in others it could last for many months or more.
What risk or side effects are there?
As with other procedures, there are a few risks involved with trigger point injections. Side effects do vary with individuals. The main side effect of this procedure is pain and swelling, which usually resolves within three or four days after the treatment.
- Infection – antibiotics will be used in treatment
- Hematoma– which result from the needle damaging the blood vessels and causing blood to pool in the muscle
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of sensation can occur when the needle damages the nerve in the area.
- There is also a risk of pneumothorax, if the lung is accidentally punctured if the procedure is performed on the chest wall.
How successful is the trigger point injection treatment in the relief of pain?
Trigger point injections are procedures that have been used in-conjunction with other treatments to relieve pain that is a result of trigger point. It has also been noted that trigger point injections have been able to moderate pain when used alone.
The bottom line
Trigger point injections are very effective in pain relief. Patients should get professional advice concerning the procedure, and how they can achieve the best results.