04 Mar A Guide to Trigger Point Injections
Some estimates put the number of Americans living with chronic pain at between 1 and 3 out of every 5. Whether that’s back pain, muscle pain or fibromyalgia, patients often find that therapies offered by their family practitioners aren’t adequate at meeting their needs. These patients often feel at a loss – with nowhere to turn they suffer in silence. Often only opioid medications like morphine and fentanyl provide their only release. As the opioid epidemic has raged across America, there is a desperate need to find a new solution for these patients. One promising option is trigger point injections.
What are trigger point injections?
A trigger point injection works by injection pain medications into “trigger points” said to be found in muscles. These “trigger points” are said to be where knots of muscles form and do not relax. The knotting of muscles can cause firing of the nearby peripheral nerves – which send pain signals up into the spinal cord and onto the brain. As such patients feel pain when there is no injury to their muscles.
When are they used?
There are a whole host of conditions that trigger point injections can be used to treat. If you have a muscle injury then the technique can target muscle groups within that area including:
- Lower back
However, the treatment isn’t limited to these muscle groups. It can also be used to treat a whole host of pain syndromes that aren’t limited to one are. For instance, it has been found to relieve patients with:
- Tension-type headaches
- Myofascial pain syndrome
What happens during a trigger point injection therapy session?
The procedure is usually carried out by a trained medical doctor. You will often be asked to go to a treatment room, where the area of pain is exposed. Usually, the skin is cleaned with an antiseptic wipe to make sure the injection doesn’t cause an infection. By locating the exact location of the pain, the doctor will inject some pain medication into this area. The medication is usually a mixture of local anesthetic and steroids. The local anesthetic should provide immediate pain relief (it blocks pain fibers from sending signals), but the steroid will take longer to work (it slowly reduces inflammation in the area, which reduces the chances of pain fibers sending signals). The procedure is often repeated every 3 to 6 months – or whenever the treatment stops being effective for you.
Does the treatment work?
A study published in the journal Pain showed that trigger point injections were, in fact, effective for patients suffering from myofascial pain syndrome. The patients received either injection with local anesthetic, botox or no injection. Patients who did not have an injection were found to have significantly more pain than those who did.
If you or somebody you know is suffering from complex pain conditions like Fibromyalgia – consider contacting a specialist pain clinic to ask about trigger point injections.