Trigger point injections are used to treat painful trigger points, which are focal regions of inflammation and pain in striated muscle often associated with myofascial pain syndrome. While trigger points can theoretically affect any muscle group, the shoulder, upper back, and low back are common sites. Trigger points commonly present as tender, palpable nodules in the affected muscle. Trigger points commonly occur with other musculoskeletal disorders, including neck pain, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, and low back pain. They may also occur with tension headaches.
A trigger point injection is direct administration of medication into a trigger point for pain relief. Our pain management doctor typically uses a combination of local anesthetic and steroid. After the injection, the inflammation subsides and pain relief is usually obtained.
Trigger point injections are usually performed in a physician’s office with the patient either sitting or lying on their stomach on the exam table. The trigger points are typically located by manual palpation. Ultrasound guidance may also be used to locate trigger points and identify surrounding anatomy. The injection site is then cleansed with an antiseptic(either alcohol or betadine). A very small needle is then inserted into the trigger point and the medication injected. A simple adhesive dressing is subsequently applied. If the patient experiences pain after the injection, ice and anti-inflammatories may be used. Trigger point injections are extremely safe but side effects may include skin dimpling, infection, bleeding, and puncture of surrounding tissue. In some instances, the injections may need to be repeated to obtain sufficient pain relief.