Trigger point injections are used to relieve painful trigger points, areas of muscle that have become tight and inflamed. Often, a tender knot or tight band can be felt at the spot.
There are two types of trigger points:
- Active – Applying pressure will cause pain at the spot, as well as pain and sometimes other symptoms (such as swelling) in other parts of the body.
- Latent – May hurt when pressed, but does not cause other symptoms and does not need treatment unless it becomes active.
Getting a trigger point injection
Injections are used by physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists (physiatrists) and physical therapists to treat painful trigger points caused by a variety of conditions:
- Chronic tension from stress
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Poor posture
- Tension headaches
- Traumatic or overuse (repetitive motion) injury
Most trigger points go away after one injection but may come back, depending on what caused them. That is
Injections are given in the doctor’s office.
Should I have trigger point injections?
If you are experiencing persistent pain from trigger points — especially pain that radiates to the surrounding areas — talk to your doctor. You may be referred to a physiatrist or physical therapist for further evaluation and treatment.
At Rush, trigger points are always used together with a regular self-care maintenance program, which involves the following:
- A sleep improvement program
- Medications — muscles relaxers and/or sleep aids — if needed
Your physiatrist or physical therapist may also recommend that you try alternatives to injections, such as physical therapy, to relieve your pain.
Types of trigger point injections
Sometimes, a needle is used without any medications — for a technique called “dry needling” or for acupuncture. Both dry needling and acupuncture are used to treat trigger points.
Otherwise, doctors use the following for trigger point injections:
- Lidocaine (an anesthetic)
- Corticosteroids (in rare cases, for certain muscles)
- A combination of the two
Your doctor will talk with you the available options and help you decide which approach is best.