One of the services people are constantly asking for or about are Trigger Point injections. They are constantly becoming more popular and at Active Medical Center we always want our patients to know exactly what they are receiving and why it is going to help them. So, here are a couple of the common questions we receive almost on a daily basis.
Q: What is a trigger point?
A: A Trigger Point is a desecrate knot or tight, ropy band of muscle that forms when muscles fail to relax. The knot often can be felt under the skin and may twitch involuntarily when touched. Pressing on a trigger point at the top of the shoulder may send referred pain down the arm or up into the neck.
Q: What causes a trigger point?
A: Acute trauma or repetitive microtrauma may lead to the development of stress on muscle fibers or the neuromuscular control of the muscle fiber in turn causing the formation of trigger points.
Q: What is a trigger point Injection?
A: A trigger point injection (TPI) is an injection that is given directly into the trigger point or “knot”. The injection may be an anesthetic such as lidocaine (Xylocaine), a corticosteroid (cortisone medication) or a mix of corticosteroid and lidocaine. In our office we use lidocaine only.
Q: How is an injection performed?
A: To start the medical provider will mark the skin over the trigger point, clean the skin, and insert a fine needle through the skin into the trigger point area. This alone may cause a little twitch in the muscle. This is a good indication that the trigger point has been reached. Once the needle is in the trigger point the anesthetic will be given. At this point the provider will move the needle gently in and out of the trigger point area, changing direction many times to make sure it is all treated. The total process typically takes less than 15 seconds per trigger point.
Q: How will I feel afterward?
A: This is a loaded question. You might feel relief right away or the relief might take up to 3-4 days after the treatment. Everyone responds differently. Once the relief is obtained it can last anywhere from a couple hours to a couple months. You may feel a little soreness at the injection site. If this occurs you should stretch the muscle as well as use ice or cold packs. Typically, the soreness only lasts 1-2 days.
Q: Are there side effects to a trigger point injection?
A: Infection: the risk of infection is very small
Bleeding: the risk of bleeding is small, however, notify your provider if you have any problems or disorders with bleeding or clotting.
Allergy: there is the potential for an allergic reaction to the medications injected, notify the medical provider if you are allergic to Lidocaine or any other medication that ends in “caine”.
Most patients do not experience any side effects at all: however a small percentage may feel a pinpoint area of muscle soreness the day after the injection for a very short period of time.
Q: Who should receive trigger point injections?
A: Patients that have specific trigger points that can be elicited with palpation (a firm touch) may experience the most relief from injections. They can be very helpful with everything from headaches and migraines to tight muscles.