Trigger Point Injection

What is a trigger point?

A trigger point is an "area" in the connective tissue, soft tissue, or muscle that becomes hyper sensitive to touch or pressure and may cause a "radiating", "stabbing" pain or "numbness". The affected area may feel like a tight band of muscle (like a rope with a knot in the middle of it).

What causes a trigger point?

The most common cause is a direct injury to soft tissue. The resulting muscle spasm or cramp creates pressure that shuts off the blood supply to the affected area of the muscle, creating a lactic acid buildup that makes it hurt and cramp. This usually causes a repetitive cycle of "trigger point" pain.

What is the purpose of injecting the trigger point muscle?

The purpose of the injection is to help break the cycle of pain by reducing the tension in the muscle long enough for it to improve. Trigger point injections are used to temporarily paralyze the muscle so it can relax and allow the blood to flow back into the area. The physician may also inject a small amount of steroid along with an anesthetic [i.e. numbing solution]. The steroid will provide an anti-inflammatory affect.

What do I need to do after the injection?

Use ice on the "injected" site for the first 24 to 48 hours to help ease the tenderness at the site of injection. You may find it beneficial to begin range of motion and muscle stretching exercises. Your physician may recommend some type of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or prescribed medication. Please check with the physician for a recommendation.

How does the physician perform a trigger point injection?

The physician's assistant will need to position you. You may be sitting or lying down, depending on what muscle needs to be injected. You will be staying in the examination room. Your skin will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution before the physician does the injection or injections. The procedure only takes a few minutes.

What will happen after the trigger point injection?

The physician's assistant will again cleanse the skin and will usually apply ice to the area. You will be given something to drink. Crackers are available upon request.

How long will I need to stay?

The length of stay after an injection is usually 5 to 10 minutes. A driver is recommended to take you home.

Will the trigger point injection help me? If so, for how long?

Time will tell if the injection will help. The combination of heat prior to exercise, ice after exercise, and stretching exercises will assist in your recovery. You may need follow-up appointments for trigger injections until your home therapy is effective. Physical therapy may be recommended to assist setting up a home care program for you.

What are the risks and side effects?

Generally speaking, this procedure is safe. However, with any procedure, there are risks. Some of the risks include temporary pain, infection, and possible collapsed lung. The physician will discuss these risks with you.