What is a trigger point injection?
A trigger point injection is an injection of local anesthetic, with or without steroid, into the trigger point in the muscle. A trigger point is a band of tissue you can feel within a muscle that causes your typical pain when pressed upon. Trigger point injections are ordered by your doctor to try to help “break up” the tight muscle. You must be involved in an active stretching and strengthening program to help prevent the trigger points from coming back. In some people (either due to frequency of injections or if steroid is contraindicated) a natural medicine called sarapin is used. Trigger point injections may need to be repeated, especially if you are unable to perform your exercises because of pain or spasm. Again, exercise is the key to both eliminating and preventing trigger points.
What are the risks of the procedure?
As with most procedures there is a remote risk of bleeding, infection, nerve injury or allergic reaction to the medications used. If the injections are around your chest or upper to mid- back there is also a small risk of pneumothorax (collapsed lung). Some short-term side effects may occur. It is possible to get some numbness/weakness beyond the muscle that’s injected if the medication spreads to a nerve. If this happens the numbness/weakness can last for hours. You may have increased pain for a few days after the local anesthetic wears off. If steroid is used, diabetics may have a short-term elevation of blood sugars; people prone to fluid retention may have increased fluid retention for 1 – 2 weeks.