What are the indications for trigger point injections?
A trigger point injection is generally indicated to treat painful areas of muscle or knots of muscle that can form in any muscle of the body. These knots or trigger points are oftentimes able to felt when touching the painful, affected muscle. Also, trigger points may irritate surrounding nerves and cause referred pain, or pain that is felt in another part of the body.
How do trigger point injections help my pain?
Once the diagnosis of a trigger point is made, you can schedule a trigger point injection. During this injection, medication is placed into the trigger point to help alleviate the localized pain, as well as the referred pain from this trigger point. The medication injected is generally a combination of steroids and anesthetics.
How do I prepare for this procedure?
A trigger point injection is a minor procedure that is typically performed in the physician’s office. You should continue to eat and drink as you normal would. You should also continue to take all of your routine medicines the day of the procedure.
What should I expect during the procedure?
You will be lying face down on an office exam table during the procedure. Live imaging, known as ultrasound, may be used if the clinician feels it is needed to ensure proper positioning.
Your painful area will then be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. A small needle will then be inserted through the skin and slowly advanced into the painful trigger point.
Once the needle is in the trigger point, a small amount of anesthetic and corticosteroid will be slowly injected. If you have an allergy to a certain medication used in the injection, a dry needling technique (involving no medications) can also be used to perform the trigger point injection. Once the injection is complete, the needle will be withdrawn and a bandaid will be placed over the injection site.
Can I have sedation for the procedure?
Trigger point injections are routinely not performed with sedation. However, the clinician will use local anesthetic to provide numbing during the procedure and ensure maximal comfort.
How soon can I go home after the procedure?
If all vitals signs are stable, you will be able to go home immediately after the procedure is completed. Trigger point injections generally take between 5-10 minutes to complete.
Can I drive myself or do I need a ride?
You may drive yourself to the procedure.
How long will it take for the pain relief to take effect?
Some patients will experience immediate relief, however, it usually takes 24 to 72 hours for the effects of the steroid medication to take effect and it may be up to 1 week before the maximum benefits are achieved.
Can the procedure make my pain worse?
Some patients will experience mild pain with the procedure that will ease up in a very short amount of time. On rare occasions, patients have experienced a prolonged increase in pain after the procedure.
What if the procedure does not improve my pain?
Trigger injections target the pain being caused by muscular problems. If you do not have pain relief from the trigger point injection, you may continue to require oral medications or other interventional procedures to achieve better pain relief.
How many injections do I need? How often can I have an injection?
In general, if the injections are successful, patients will experience at least 3-6 months of pain relief after the initial series of injections. You may return for future injections when the pain returns.
Are there any restrictions following the procedure?
We ask that you not immerse in water for 24 hours after the injection. This means that you can shower, but not take a bath or go swimming for the rest of the day. There are no other specific restrictions on activity; however, we recommend that you “take it easy” the rest of the day and slowly resume your normal activities.
What are the risks of the procedure?
Overall, trigger point injections are a very safe procedure. Serious side effects or complications are rare with trigger point injections. However, like all injection procedures, possible adverse effects are possible. The most common complication is bleeding and bruising at the needle puncture site. Other very rare complications include infection, hematoma (bleeding into the muscle) and allergic reactions to medications used for the procedure. If you experience any concerning symptoms after your injection, you should call your doctor immediately or go to an emergency room for evaluation.