Trigger Point Injection

Trigger points are areas where you have muscle pain. A trigger point injection is a shot given in the trigger point to relieve that pain. A trigger point might feel like a knot in your muscle. It hurts to press on a trigger point. Sometimes the pain spreads out (radiates) to other parts of the body. For example, pressing on a trigger point in your shoulder might cause pain in your arm or neck. You might have one trigger point. Or, you might have more than one. People often have trigger points in their upper back and lower back. They also occur often in the neck and shoulders.

Pain from a trigger point lasts for a long time. It can make it hard to keep moving. You might not be able to do the exercise or physical therapy that could help you deal with the pain. A trigger point injection may help. It does not work for everyone. But, it may relieve your pain for a few days or a few months. A trigger point injection does not cure long-lasting (chronic) pain.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Any allergies (especially to latex, lidocaine, or steroids).

  • Blood-thinning medicines that you take. These drugs can lead to bleeding or bruising after an injection. They include:

  • Aspirin.

  • Ibuprofen.

  • Clopidogrel.

  • Warfarin.

  • Other medicines you take. This includes all vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids.

  • Recent infections.

  • Past problems with numbing medicines.

  • Bleeding problems.

  • Surgeries you have had.

  • Other health problems.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

A trigger point injection is a safe treatment. However, problems may develop, such as:

  • Minor side effects usually go away in 1 to 2 days. These may include:

  • Soreness.

  • Bruising.

  • Stiffness.

  • More serious problems are rare. But, they may include:

  • Bleeding under the skin (hematoma).

  • Skin infection.

  • Breaking off of the needle under your skin.

  • Lung puncture.

  • The trigger point injection may not work for you.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

You may need to stop taking any medicine that thins your blood. This is to prevent bleeding and bruising. Usually these medicines are stopped several days before the injection. No other preparation is needed.

PROCEDURE

A trigger point injection can be given in your caregiver's office or in a clinic. Each injection takes 2 minutes or less.

  • Your caregiver will feel for trigger points. The caregiver may use a marker to circle the area for the injection.

  • The skin over the trigger point will be washed with a germ-killing (antiseptic) solution.

  • The caregiver pinches the spot for the injection.

  • Then, a very thin needle is used for the shot. You may feel pain or a twitching feeling when the needle enters the trigger point.

  • A numbing solution may be injected into the trigger point. Sometimes a drug to keep down swelling, redness, and warmth (inflammation) is also injected.

  • Your caregiver moves the needle around the trigger zone until the tightness and twitching goes away.

  • After the injection, your caregiver may put gentle pressure over the injection site.

  • Then it is covered with a bandage.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You can go right home after the injection.

  • The bandage can be taken off after a few hours.

  • You may feel sore and stiff for 1 to 2 days.

  • Go back to your regular activities slowly. Your caregiver may ask you to stretch your muscles. Do not do anything that takes extra energy for a few days.

  • Follow your caregiver's instructions to manage and treat other pain.