Trigger Point Injections, also called TPI’s, are intra-muscular injections of a local anesthetic (like Novocain), and often an anti-inflammatory steroid, not muscle-building, into the muscle sites that are contributing to your pain.
Trigger point injections are used to treat specific areas of muscle that are in pain. These areas, known as trigger points, develop when a specific area of muscle does not relax, forming what is commonly referred to as a muscle knot. These knots can be physically felt below the skin when the area is touched. When pressure is applied to the point, pain spreads to the rest of the body. This pain is called referred pain, meaning that it is felt in another part of the body.
There are multiple ways for trigger points to form. Muscle tension conditions, including Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome, can lead to the formation of muscle knots. Tensions stemming from stress and other forms of psychological distress can also lead to the genesis of trigger points. Physical overexertion, like lifting something too heavy with your back, is a known cause because those muscles are not accustomed to that kind of strain. In addition, physical trauma resulting from a fall or accident can also serve as a predictor of a forming trigger point.
When it feels like a muscle cannot relax, the pain can be distracting and incredibly uncomfortable. In some cases, patients can find it difficult to move and experience an overall feeling of weakness. One method that is an option for patients experiencing this kind of pain is Trigger point injections, or TPI’s. This procedure works by numbing the area, thereby making the muscle that is holding all the tension inactive. The injection is composed of an anti-inflammatory steroid, as well as a local anesthetic like Lidocaine, which work in conjunction to eliminate pain. In some cases, just injecting a needle with nothing in it, a process known as dry needling, into the trigger point site can improve pain.
The procedure itself is brief and can be administered by a doctor in a few minutes. The doctor locates the trigger point by manually manipulating the skin. Once it is found, a numbing agent can be applied to the skin to prevent any discomfort from the needle. The needle is injected into the site and the procedure is over quickly.
After the procedure, orthopedic doctors advise the patient to wait a number of days before resuming exercise activities. After a week, however, it is advisable so that it can be determined whether or not the trigger point was helped by the injection. There will be a period of soreness from the injection but once this subsides the general result is marked improvement. It generally only requires one injection at the site to ease the muscle and eliminate pain.
At The Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders, we are experienced in diagnosing and treating trigger points in patients. Using innovative techniques, our goal is to use the most non-invasive, minimal treatments that work most effectively in reducing pain. If you are experiencing pain at the site of a trigger point or referred pain elsewhere, a TPI may be the right treatment for you. By meeting with a doctor at The CMD your particular case will be evaluated and a treatment plan will be put in place.