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What are trigger point injections?

Trigger point injections are used to relieve pain and swelling in extremely painful areas of muscles characterized by traumatized areas known as trigger points. Trigger points can feel like a knot, or a tight band of muscle, and are extremely tender to deep pressure. They can irritate nearby nerves, which could cause referred pain in other parts of the body.

Trigger points can occur anywhere in the body, but are most common in the neck, shoulders and lower back. Some trigger points can be treated with physical therapy to avoid injection.

Trigger point on back

What is the purpose of trigger point injections?

Trigger point injections are recommended for patients with active trigger points.  They can cause neck pain, shoulder pain and even headaches.  A trigger point injection may contain lidocaine or a corticosteroid that serves to make the trigger point inactive and relieve pain.

How are trigger point injections performed?

syringe for trigger point injection

A small needle is inserted into the trigger point to deliver a local anesthetic. Sometimes a corticosteroid is included. Additional injections may be required.

In some cases, a physician might request that a patient stretch and work the muscle after the procedure.

What to expect after the procedure?

Most patients will experience an immediate relief in pain in both the trigger point muscle and the areas of referred pain. After the local anesthetic wears off, bruising and soreness, and in some cases increased pain, is common for a few days. Stretching and the application of heat to the area can alleviate these symptoms.

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