FAQs on Trigger Point Injections in Atlanta

A trigger point is a painful muscle region. For many patients, a trigger points feels like there is a knot in the muscle. When pressure is applied to a trigger point, the pain radiates out to other body areas. A trigger point injection (TPI) is direct instillation of medication into the tight, painful trigger point.

What is the purpose of a trigger point injection?

Trigger point injections are given to increase functional ability and reduce pain, so the patient can participate in physical therapy or daily activities. Around 10% of the U.S. population has some type of chronic musculoskeletal disorder (23 million people).

These conditions are the main reason for disability among working adults. TPIs are used to treat muscle pain, which can occur in the lower back, neck, legs, and arms. This type of injection is commonly used for myofascial pain syndrome.

What can I expect before a series of trigger point injections?

Trigger point injections are usually done after the doctor conducts a physical examination and determines the existence of one or more trigger points. Imaging tests are done to evaluate the tissue structures and spine beforehand. Be sure to discuss all allergies that you have with the doctor, such as allergy to latex, pain medicine, or anesthetics.

How is the trigger point injection performed?

You will remain awake during the trigger point injection. The doctor first locates the trigger point with his fingers. After the skin is cleansed with an antiseptic solution, a local anesthetic is used to numb the skin around the trigger point.

A thin needle is inserted into the trigger point, and medication is injected. This can include a long-acting anesthetic, corticosteroid, and/or water solution. Sometimes, Botulium toxin (Botox) is injected to control muscle contractions. To locate the trigger point, the doctor may use needle-guided electromyography (EMG). This allows the doctor to make sure the right spot is identified before injecting the medication.

What are the possible complications of the trigger point injection?

Potential problems with the trigger point injection are rare, but include lightheadedness, infection, tenderness, bleeding, bruising, damage to the organs, or allergic reaction. People who should not have this injection include those who have allergies to the local anesthetic or medications, people with a bleeding disorder or current infection, and pregnant women.

What can I expect after trigger point injections?

The nurse will apply pressure to the injection and place a bandage on the area. You will be observed for 15-30 minutes to assure that you have no reactions to the medications. To reduce soreness, use a cold pack for 20 minutes several times a day.

The doctor will advise you on which medications to use. Call the doctor if you have any numbness, pain, or weakness of an area or extremity, or if any signs of infection arise, such as fever or drainage at the injection site.

How frequently do TPIs need to be administered?

One injection does not work for every patient, so trigger point injections may need repeated. The frequency of trigger point injection depends on what medication is used, the patient’s condition, and the doctor’s recommendation. Some patients require TPI on a monthly basis, while others only get these once each year.

Are trigger point injections effective?

TPIs are indicated for patients with active, symptomatic trigger points that produce a muscle twitch in response to pressure. Studies show that these injections are effective 98% of the time, with 58% of patients reporting complete symptom relief.