What To Expect From A Trigger Point Injection?

Medically Reviewed by NJ Spine & Orthopedic on June 16, 2024

Trigger point injections are a popular treatment for managing chronic pain. They are also effective for treating myofascial pain syndrome, reducing pain intensity, and improving physical function in patients with this condition. This minimally invasive procedure involves injecting a small amount of anesthetic or saline into the trigger points, which are painful knots of muscle that can cause discomfort and limit movement.

A trigger point injection is a medical procedure that can help soothe muscle pain and is often recommended for fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and myofascial pain. If your doctor has recommended trigger point injections to help alleviate your pain, you may be wondering what to expect from this procedure. NJ Spine and Orthopedic are here to help you understand this process.

Trigger point injections are a common treatment for chronic pain conditions. These injections specifically target myofascial trigger points to provide relief from musculoskeletal pain. They involve the injection of a local anesthetic, sometimes combined with a corticosteroid, directly into the trigger point to inactivate it and alleviate pain. This treatment is often used for conditions such as fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and myofascial pain syndrome.

What Are Trigger Points?

Trigger points are highly sensitive, tight knots or bands of muscle or connective tissue that cause pain. These points form in muscle fibers and can cause referred pain in other parts of the body. They are most commonly found in the back, neck, and buttocks but can affect almost any body part. Those who suffer from trigger point pain can experience muscle spasms, weakness, and pain in other body parts, including eye pain and headaches or migraines.

Manual labor is a common cause of trigger points, but other contributors to painful trigger points include:

  • Injury or trauma to a muscle
  • Chronic muscle clenching
  • Inactivity
  • Repetitive motions
  • Poor body mechanics, such as poor posture
  • Sustained muscle overloading
  • Psychological stress
  • Insomnia
  • Poor nutritional health
  • Menopause or other hormonal issues
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Depression or other emotional disorders

There are two types of trigger points: active and latent. When a trigger point is active, it can 

cause pain even at rest. Latent trigger points, on the other hand, generally only cause pain with pressure.

What is a Trigger Point Injection?

During a trigger point injection procedure, a doctor inserts a small needle into a trigger point and injects a local anesthetic to numb the area and minimize discomfort, along with a long-acting anesthetic or anti-inflammatory medicine. Injections to trigger points can relieve pain immediately and increase mobility for people with chronic muscle pain, but some people find that results take several days or weeks to appear. Although uncommon, some patients report that their pain does not improve after injections.

Trigger point injections are a minor medical procedure that can be repeated as needed to maintain pain relief. In a 2019 study investigating the effects of trigger point injections in people with abdominal muscle pain, some participants reported substantial pain reduction up to two years after their first injection.

What Should You Expect from Trigger Point Injections?

After lying down on a procedure table, your doctor will locate and clean your trigger point and then pinch it to keep it from sliding away. Then, they will insert the needle into your skin and inject the trigger point with the medicine. These injections help reduce muscle tension and improve range of motion. You may experience some twitching and discomfort when the needle is inserted into the trigger point. Those with extremely tense muscles may even feel a crunching or mild burning sensation. After the injection, your doctor will then stretch and massage the muscle and surrounding area.

Side effects of trigger point injections can include:

  • Pain or tenderness around the injection site
  • Numbness around the injection site
  • Swelling around the injection site
  • Discoloration or dimpling near the injection site
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Bleeding

If pain, numbness, and swelling around the injection site should wear off within a couple of hours. If your side effects worsen or do not disappear within a couple of weeks, contact your doctor. Trigger point injections rarely cause severe complications, but there is a risk of experiencing:

  • Bruising
  • Infection
  • Muscle damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Lung collapse, caused by an accumulation of gas between the chest wall and lungs
  • Myonecrosis, a severe form of muscle damage
  • Allergic reaction
  • Organ puncture

You can reduce your risk of experiencing complications by following your doctor’s instructions exactly and informing them of any concerns or allergies you may have.

Seek a Board-Certified Doctor for Minimally Invasive Spinal Treatment Options in New Jersey

If you are experiencing pain caused by knots or trigger points, our award-winning team of medical staff at NJ Spine and Orthopedic may be able to help you find relief. Give us a call today at (866) 553-0612 or complete a contact form to discover what minimally invasive treatment options offer for your pain relief.

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