What is a trigger point injection?
Trigger points are discrete, focal, hyperirritable spots located in a taut band of skeletal muscle. They produce pain in a referred pattern and often accompany chronic musculoskeletal disorders. Trigger points are seen in myofascial pain syndrome, a common painful muscle disorder.
Trigger points are diagnosed by a thorough physical exam in which the physician palpates muscle for tender areas over taut bands and knots. MRI or X-rays cannot detect a trigger point, but it may help in revealing an underlying condition. Trigger point pain may manifest as tension headache, tinnitus, joint pain, and eye symptoms in the neck or head region. In the arm, the pain may mimic bursitis or tendonitis, and in the legs the pain can be a cause of limited range of movement of the knee or ankle.
Trigger point injection or TPI is a procedure used to treat painful areas of muscle that contain trigger points, or knots of muscle that form when muscles do not relax. A trigger point injection can help soothe muscle pain, especially in your arms, legs, lower back and neck by delivering a mixture of medications to reduce inflammation. The trigger point injection medications are designed to break the pain cycle allowing the patient to effectively participate in a rehabilitative program. The treatment usually takes a few minutes.
What happens during a trigger point injection procedure?
This is usually the procedure for a trigger point injection treatment:
- The patient will sit or lie down for the procedure.
- The physician will press the muscle to locate the area where you have pain.
- The doctor will insert a needle into the area and inject a mixture of anesthetic and steroid.
The patient may have several trigger points injected during one visit to the pain management doctor’s office