Trigger Point Injections FAQ’s

Trigger Point Injections have become a popular treatment option for those with pain, numbness, muscle tenderness and decreased range of motion. I have seen great success with the use of Trigger Point Injections to help patients recover more quickly and improve healing outcomes. If you’re interested in learning more about this treatment option, continue reading as I answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

What is a Trigger Point?Trigger Point Injections

Trigger points, also known as “muscle knots” or “myofascial muscle pain” commonly occur in the neck and back. They can also occur in other muscles including those in the shoulders, arms, legs, and buttocks. They are hypersensitive, contracted muscles that cause a person pain and tenderness. Trigger points often form as the result of overuse or an injury. Sometimes trigger points can cause something called referred pain. This occurs when the taut muscle fibers compress or irritate a nerve causing pain in other regions of the body.

 

What is a Trigger Point Injection? What medications may be used in a Trigger Point Injection?

A Trigger Point Injection (TPI) is a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the painful trigger point to help break up the taut muscle fibers that have caused the trigger point to occur. Medications used in a TPI procedure usually include lidocaine and bupivacaine, which are both local anesthetics. These medications help to provide a numbing sensation to the injected region and provide pain relief for a short time. It is the needling procedure that actually helps to break up and alleviate the myofascial muscle pain over time, though. Corticosteroids are not used in TPI’s at Team Health Care Clinic.

 

When/why is a Trigger Point Injection used?

Trigger Point Injections are most often used in conjunction with physical therapy (PT) or massage therapy. Trigger Point Injections are usually performed prior to PT or massage therapy because we have found that the combination of these therapies allows us to work as a team to provide our patients with a better outcome from their myofascial muscle pain. After a Trigger Point Injection has been administered, the taut muscle fibers begin to break apart, then muscle work performed in either PT or massage helps to loosen the painful “knots” even more, giving our patients greater relief of pain.

 

What is the benefit to the patient?

There are a number of benefits that patients can achieve from TPI’s. Trigger Point Injections can help to alleviate pain by relaxing tight muscles, improve flexibility, improve range of motion, alleviate stiffness and weakness from the affected muscle, and alleviate referred pain.

 

What are complications and side effects of Trigger Point Injections?

The most common side effects of Trigger Point Injections include a “pinching” pain during the injection, numbness at the injection site for a few hours from the local anesthetic, mild bruising, and increased soreness for the first 24 to 48 hours. The soreness should then subside and benefit from the injection should be noticed after that time period. It is important to stay well hydrated prior to and for the first 24 hours after your Trigger Point Injection.

 

How frequently do Trigger Point Injections need to be administered?

Trigger Point Injections are usually administered one time per week for 3-4 weeks in conjunction with physical therapy or massage therapy appointments. The series of injections is necessary as positive results continue to build with additional injections to provide patients with the most benefit.

Tiffany Watson, CNP

Tiffany Watson, CNP

 

 

Understanding Numbness and Nerve Pain

A patient and I were discussing today how nice it would be if we could diagnose our health problems in a similar way to car problems. When we have problems with our car, our mechanic connects it to a machine that generates a diagnostic code. Unfortunately, with people, it’s not always easy to understand the source of pain or the cause of our limited mobility.  In healthcare we do have a variety of different testing or diagnostic tools but it still can be challenging to get to the root of the cause for what is going on when someone is having pain. 

What if you are experiencing numbness, tingling and/or pain in your fingers or hands?  As medical providers, we understand that this could be caused by issues stemming all the way to your neck.  It could also be coming from issues in your shoulder, elbow or wrist.

You may have what we call radiating symptoms, which include pain or a feeling that is not just in one area but moves to another area.  Sometimes it will follow in a line that you can feel numbness from your shoulder blade into your forearm or you might feel tingling only in your fingertips.  When there is degeneration in your neck or cervical spine this can cause damage or irritation to the nerves which travel all the way down to your fingers. 

There are 3 main branches of nerves:

  1. Median Nerve: This nerve runs along the inside of the arm and travels through into the 1st through 3rd fingers or thumb to middle finger.
  2. Ulnar Nerve: Runs along the inside of the arm and elbow and into the outer part of the hand and 5th digit or little finger. 
  3. Radial Nerve:  Runs along the back of the arm and into the 1st through 4th digits or thumb to ring finger. 

There can be many causes but there are also a wide variety of treatments for these very uncomfortable symptoms.  Because our bodies are so complex, we often need to address several areas to stimulate healing and help you feel better. Finding a well rounded team of providers will help you achieve the best outcomes from any necessary treatment. In our Champlin, MN clinic, we have medical, physical therapy and chiropractic providers that work together to understand the cause of pain and recommend the appropriate plan of action. 

Emily Franklin, PTA