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Trigger Point Injection

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A trigger point injection is done to soothe muscle knots that are causing pain.

Trigger point injections work to relax the muscle. This injection may be used for a variety of conditions where muscle pain and knots are common, such as tension headaches, fibromyalgia and myofascial pain.

Why It’s Done

If physical therapy and medications do not improve muscle pain, this procedure may be appropriate. If a muscle will not relax with conservative measures, the doctor might recommend this procedure.

Preparation

For the most part, little to no preparation is necessary. These injections are typically performed in a doctor’s office. Should patients need to do anything special before the injections, their doctor will provide detailed instructions. While discussing these injections, doctors may ask their patients about the following:

  • Bleeding disorders or medicines that thin the blood
  • Presence of a systemic or local infection
  • Acute muscle trauma, especially where the injection will be done
  • Within the last three days, the patient has taken aspirin
  • Allergies to anesthetic medications
  • Extreme fear of needles
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Procedure

When the patient arrives for the injection, they might be asked to put on a gown to make it easier to access the area where the injection will go. The area being injected is cleaned to reduce the risk of infection.

The doctor will likely palpate the area to make sure they get the right area. The area will be cleaned again if this is done without the doctor wearing gloves.

The next step is the actual injection. The needle is relatively small. The doctor inserts it into the “knotted” area and injects. The medicines used typically include a corticosteroid and a local anesthetic. Just a small amount of each of these are used.

Patients who have multiple trigger points can usually have them all done during the same visit. It only takes about a minute to do each injection.

Following the injections, a small bandage is usually placed on the injection site to catch any bleeding. In most cases, bleeding is very minimal.

Patients are able to go home after the procedure. It is often recommended that they have someone drive them home just to be on the safe side.

Risks and Recovery

This procedure is very simple, so the risk for complications is very low. There is a very low risk of infection where the injections were administered. Bleeding is also a risk, but a minimal one.

At the injection site, it is possible to have some temporary numbness or soreness. This typically goes away within a day or two.

How well the injections work and how long their effects last varies greatly. If the pain returns, patients should talk to their doctor to determine if more injections are appropriate.

It is ideal to take it easy for two to three days after the injections. The doctor can give their patient a more precise time frame.

Before having trigger point injections, make sure to get the facts. This ensures that patients have reasonable expectations and that they know what to expect.