Myofascial trigger points are focused areas of pain in the soft tissue/muscles of the body. Often, these areas will create knots that can be felt under the skin. They are painful when pressed on and often cause referred pain to another area of the body. For example, headaches are often caused by trigger points in the shoulder, neck and occipital(back of head) muscles. The trigger point irritates the surrounding nerve and refers pain up the neck and head, causing a headache. Myofascial trigger point injections (TPI) are an excellent option for treating those with trigger point pain. By inactivating or relaxing the muscles creating the trigger point, myofascial trigger point injections can provide prompt relief of pain and other neuromuscular symptoms.
When are Trigger Point Injections Used?
Trigger point injections can be used to treat various muscle groups, particularly those in the neck, lower back, arms and legs. They are also an integral part of therapy for those suffering from fibromyalgia and tension headaches. Trigger point injection are also being used in myofascial pain syndrome, a difficult to treat type of chronic pain syndrome that affects the tissue that surround muscle fibers.
Before the injection, Dr. Morchower identifies a trigger point through palpation or physical touch and pressure along the suspected areas. Trigger points are located within tight bands or cords of tense muscle tissues usually just a few millimeters in width. The area is examined for a point of maximum tenderness within the tight band of muscle. The point of maximum tenderness is identified as the trigger point. If by pressing on the trigger point, the muscle twitches, you have what’s called “jump sign”. This usually indicates an irritated trigger point. Once a trigger point has been located, Dr. Morchower will typically mark that area for treatment.
- Trigger point injections are done in the clinic
- The skin overlying the area to be injection will be cleaned with alcohol.
- The trigger point is isolated by pinching the area up between the thumb and index finger with enough pressure to prevent the trigger point from rolling away during the injection.
- The needle is then inserted into the trigger point and medication will be administered.
- When the needle is inside the trigger point, a small amount of numbing medicine often mixed with a steroid or other anti-inflammatory medication is injected into the area.
After the Procedure
Patients are able to resume normal daily activities. Strenuous activities, however, should be avoided until all muscle soreness from the injection is gone. Stretching and moving the muscles treated is recommended in order to prevent the muscles from tightening up again.
Immediate relief from the numbing medication typically lasts only a period of hours to a couple days. However the total relief can last for a couple months. Trigger point injections aim to not only relieve pain but also to allow patients to more fully participate in physical therapy and rehabilitation.
*Individual Result May Vary*