Trigger point injections to treat chronic muscle pain and other issues that affect the musculoskeletal system.
Muscle pain can develop for a variety of reasons, from sleeping in the wrong position to tearing large muscle groups during an intense weightlifting session.
Although many types of muscle pain resolve after a few days of rest, people who have persistent or chronic muscle pain may require medical treatment.
Chronic muscle pain can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to function and their quality of life. Trigger point injections may offer immediate benefits to people who have chronic muscle pain.
What are trigger point injections? Trigger point injections may treat chronic muscle pain related to myofascial trigger points, which are highly sensitive bundles of fibers in tight bands of muscle.
The treatment involves injecting medication directly into myofascial trigger points. The doctor will determine the best type of medicine based on the severity and underlying cause of the pain.
Trigger point injections can include:
- a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, which blocks pain receptors in muscles
- a corticosteroid, which reduces inflammation in the muscle and connective tissue surrounding a nerve
- botulinum toxin A (Botox), which interferes with nerve signaling pathways and prevents muscle contractions
During the procedure, the doctor will insert a small needle into a myofascial trigger point and inject the medication.
People who have especially tense muscles may feel a crunching sensation when the doctor inserts the needle. This feeling usually subsides as the muscle relaxes.
Trigger point injections can be a safe treatment for pain caused by conditions that affect the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, such as those below.
Do they work?
Trigger point injections may offer immediate pain relief and improved range of motion for people with chronic muscle pain.
However, these injections do not affect everyone in the same way. Some people experience significant pain relief immediately after the injections, while others find that several days or weeks can pass before their pain improves.
Some people do not benefit at all from trigger point injections.
While trigger point injections rarely cause serious complications, they can lead to:
- infection at the injection site
- muscle or nerve damage
- rarely, air or gas accumulating in the space between the chest wall and the lungs, which may cause one or both lungs to collapse
Ultrasound imaging can help minimize the risk of developing a serious complication of trigger point injections.