Trigger Point Injections Q&A

What is a trigger point?

A trigger point can develop when a muscle becomes stiff, strained, or injured. This pain can eventually lead to headaches, joint pain, or more muscle tension in other areas. Trigger points feel similar to a knot or marble in the muscle, most often in the upper back. (1) Sometimes trigger points are described as a “catch”, “kink”, or “pinch”. Typically, people try stretching, NSAIDs, topical pain relief medications, and massage are often used to relieve trigger points.

Why do trigger points develop?

Poor posture, general muscle weakness, dehydration, ineffective stress management, unsupportive sleep (mattress/pillow), cervical and lumbar spine misalignment/ subluxation, exercise-induced muscle strain/ sprain can contribute to the development of trigger points. It is quite common for people to “carry” their stress in their neck, shoulders, and upper back which can eventually develop into tension headaches or migraines. Likewise, chronic muscular tension in the lower back/ lumbar region can cause radiating pain to the buttocks, hamstrings, IT bands, and knees. Chronic muscular tension and strain can negatively impact the mobility and function of our joints.

What can we do to prevent trigger points?

Massage therapy and cupping can be beneficial. Massage can help relieve muscular tension and prevent trigger points from developing. Cupping brings more blood circulation to tense muscles, providing relief. You can schedule a visit with our massage therapist, Alinna, for both these services.

Staying well-hydrated, routine strength training, and core stability can better support our musculoskeletal system and support proper posture. Stress management, a well-balanced diet, and the elimination of processed sugars can reduce general systemic inflammation and minimize musculoskeletal tension and inflammation. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies may need to be assessed if the pain does not resolve.

Discover more about improving core strength and stability with an Emsculpt treatment package.

If you are interested in learning more about nutritional and mineral deficiencies, schedule a functional medicine visit with Laura the functional medicine practitioner.

How can a trigger point injection benefit me?

Trigger point injections are a simple and effective method to alleviate the localized and radiating pain associated with chronic muscular tension. A trigger point injection contains a mixture of medications to support rehydration and relaxation of the muscle, reduces inflammation, and improves blood flow which allows the body to heal itself.

Trigger point injections can also be useful in managing fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndrome, and tension headaches or migraines.

What medications are in the trigger point injections?

It is a mixture of 2% lidocaine and homeopathic anti-inflammatory Traumeel. Lidocaine provides a numbing effect to relieve pain and helps to rehydrate the muscle. Traumeel is an alternative non-steroidal anti-inflammatory; it is a blend of botanicals and minerals used to neutralize inflammation. Traumeel injections are natural, safe, with little to no side effects. (2)

Tell me about the procedure.

First, we will discuss your specific complaints of pain and discomfort. The area of complaint will be assessed with light to deep palpation of the muscles. Once the trigger point(s) are identified, the skin is cleaned with alcohol. Then using an acupuncture size needle, a small amount of lidocaine and/or anti-inflammatory medication is injected into the trigger point in the muscle. The medication dissipates into the muscle fibers, promoting hydration and neutralizing inflammation at the site. Multiple sites are usually addressed during a single treatment.

How long do trigger point injections last?

This varies from patient to patient and depends on many factors. Most patients report relief for 1-2 weeks. If we can identify or isolate the contributing factor during the assessment, the trigger point should resolve itself and no follow-up injections may be necessary.

How often can I have them?

Patients can receive injections on a weekly basis as needed. To start, a patient may need routine visits for up to 6 weeks then tapered to once monthly or as needed. For patients with chronic pain, consistency is key. Routine maintenance on a weekly basis may be necessary with the goal to decrease to monthly injections.

How would you describe the feeling?

Most people report it feels like a little prick, followed with minor stinging, tingling, or numbness.

Are trigger point injections safe?

Trigger point injections do not require any diagnostic imaging, are very safe, and have minimal side effects. Temporary side effects include bruising, numbness, and soreness at the injection site. Infection and bleeding are rare complications.

Is there any downtime after the injection?

You can go about your daily routine. Drink at least 60 oz of water to stay well-hydrated; this will improve circulation and the healing process. It is recommended to avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours.

Do I need to do anything to prepare for a trigger point injection?

There is no necessary preparation for trigger point injections.