Trigger point injections are an effective therapy that is designed to help with issues surrounding myofascial pain syndrome. This syndrome is a muscle disorder characterized by myofascial trigger points that cause significant pain. While myofascial pain syndrome can occur concurrently with fibromyalgia, the two are distinct from each other.
These trigger points are typically located in the trapezius and rhomboid muscle groups in the back. Trigger points in these areas can cause headaches or neck and shoulder pain. In addition to these areas, trigger points are also located in the extremities, but issues here are less common.
There is often a nodule located in the muscle where a trigger point is located. When somebody presses on this nodule, pain can be felt and may radiate or shoot outward from the nodule to the trigger point.
A trigger point injection (TPI) can be administered by several different types of medical professionals in an office setting. The injection is given straight into the trigger point itself and may contain a corticosteroid, a local anesthetic, or both.
Additionally, a trigger point may simply have a needle inserted, but not deliver any medication. This “dry needling” can render the trigger point inactive and relieve the associated pain.
How is the Injection Administered?
The TPI is typically administered to a patient who is lying on their stomach or sitting on the exam table. Your medical professional will locate the trigger point through palpation. Sometimes they may use an ultrasound to locate the trigger point, though this is not common.
The injection site will be marked and then sterilized with an alcohol swab. Some individuals may also request a topical anesthetic to help numb the injection site. After the site is numb, the injection is made, and the medication is injected. A bandage may be placed if bleeding occurs.
If you experience pain related to your treatment you may opt to take an over the counter pain medication that contains an anti-inflammatory.
When You Should Consider TPI
If you have a painful trigger point that radiates into the surrounding area, it may be time to consider TPI. Individuals that have fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome are ideal candidates.
Side Effects of TPI
Pain associated with the actual injection is a rare and relatively minor side effect that some patients have reported which usually dissipates within a few days of the injection. If you experience these side effects, the use of ice, heat, or over the counter medications can help to alleviate your pain.
Another possible side effect is a skin indentation that occurs at the injection site which has only been seen when the injection includes a steroid. The steroid may cause the underlying fat cells to shrink leaving a small depression.
Some bleeding or risk of infection is also present due to the injection of the needle through the skin. While these side effects are relatively minor, if your condition worsens, you should seek immediate medical attention.
How Long do the Injections Last?
TPI injections can completely resolve the issue permanently when they are associated with minor trauma, injury, or as the result of a motion that will no longer be performed. However, individuals that are receiving TPI treatment as the result of fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome may require multiple injections as trigger points tend to recur when a chronic condition causes them. Injections may be required monthly, but typically occur less frequently. You should discuss your needs with your medical professional.
Trigger point injections can be an effective treatment for many patients that are experiencing trigger point pain. If you believe that this may be the cause of your pain, call your medical professional today to schedule an appointment and discuss your options.