Affecting nearly 50 million US adults, chronic pain is one of the most common reasons that patients seek medical care. Chronic, debilitating pain can have a detrimental effect on a patient’s quality of life because it can adversely affect functional capacity; cause psychological distress; and cause strain in personal relationships.
The spectrum of pain consists of many different diseases and conditions, which can make chronic pain very challenging and complex to manage. One extremely common cause of pain that can be relatively simple and inexpensive to treat is trigger points. Trigger point injections can be used to treat many different types of pain including pain conditions that involve the muscles of the back or neck, tension headaches or migraines, fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome.
A trigger point is a knot of tightly bound muscle tissue that forms when the muscles are unable to fully relax, usually seen in the back muscles. Trigger points can be felt as hard knots under the skin and can cause discomfort in that specific area. As well, trigger points can cause referred pain into another location if the knots are aggravating surrounding nerves. These muscle knots can occur as a result of an accident or injury, repetitive movements/overuse, or imbalances in the body’s structure or muscular system.
A trigger point injection (TPI) can be used to relieve discomfort that is caused by knots in the muscles. A trigger point injection is a safe and quick procedure that can provide fast pain relief by helping the tight muscle bands to relax. This procedure involves injecting a small amount of a numbing agent, sometimes with a steroid medication, directly into a painful trigger point. The needle helps to stimulate the muscle tissue directly, allowing the muscle to relax. The numbing agent is used to help promote healing and reduce pain, while the steroid is used to reduce inflammation.
Trigger point injections should be considered in patients who have chronic muscle pain or headaches especially when other therapies, such as medications, ice or heat therapy, or physical therapy, have not been effective. These injections are safe, provide fast pain relief, and have been effective for many of our patients suffering with chronic pain.