When areas of extremely tight muscle fibers develop in muscles due to overuse or injury, they can cause chronic pain and stiffness and significantly reduce your quality of life. Touching or moving these trigger points will produce pain in the early stages of the disorder. As the disorder progresses, pain will be continual without touching or moving trigger points.
After you undergo a comprehensive examination (which may include diagnostic imaging scans) your doctor may diagnose your pain as trigger (myofascial) point syndrome. While temporary muscle tension pain commonly affects adults of all ages, trigger point pain does not resolve by itself and always worsens without treatment.
Trigger point pain is characterized by persistent pain, decreased range of motion and, in some cases, joint swelling. Muscles frequently impacted by trigger point pain are muscles involved in controlling body posture, such as the neck, pelvic, and shoulder muscles.
People with trigger point pain in the neck region may experience tinnitus, headaches, and temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ). Trigger point pain in the shoulders resembles pain associated with shoulder bursitis or tendonitis. For this reason, you should always have shoulder pain examined by a pain management doctor to ensure you receive treatment appropriate for the diagnosed condition.
How Do Trigger Point Injections Relieve Pain?
Trigger point injections contain a local anesthetic (usually Lidocaine or Bupivacaine) that may be combined with a steroid to reduce inflammation. In addition to providing pain relief, trigger point injections break up tight muscle knots to help improve joint flexibility, alleviate spasms, and maintain general muscle health.
What are Lidocaine and Bupivacaine?
Approved by the U.S. FDA over 40 years ago, Lidocaine and Bupivacaine are anesthetics that work to minimize trigger point pain by blocking nerve signaling within muscles. They are also used to induce numbing before minimally invasive surgery and dental procedures.
How Fast Do Trigger Point Injections Work?
Most people feel pain relief within two to four minutes of having a Lidocaine trigger point injection. Alternately, Bupivacaine takes a little longer to diminish pain (usually about five to 10 minutes following an injection) but lasts much longer than Lidocaine. Your pain management doctor will discuss the kind of trigger point injection that would best suit your needs during your consultation appointment.
How Often are Trigger Point Injections Given?
You can receive multiple injections over several weeks. Once your pain is under control, your pain management doctor may schedule injections every three to six months if necessary.
Do Trigger Point Injections Cause Side Effects?
No. These injections are FDA approved, safe, and have no side effects. Some people may experience temporary minor soreness at the injection site. You can get trigger point injections on your work lunch hour and return to work afterward, depending on how many injections you receive and where you were injected.
Do Trigger Point Injections Hurt?
Like all other injections, you will feel slight discomfort at the moment the injection occurs. However, because trigger point injections contain an anesthetic, the numbing effect is almost immediate.
Are Trigger Point Injections the Same as Cortisone Injections?
Not exactly. Trigger point injections contain an anesthetic and sometimes cortisone, but cortisone injections contain cortisone only. In addition, cortisone-only injections are generally not given to people diagnosed with trigger point pain since their pain is not attributable to severe inflammation.
Moreover, cortisone injections may cause side effects in some individuals with certain health issues. Your pain management doctor can determine whether you need a trigger point or a cortisone injection depending on the outcome of your diagnostic examination.
Are There Any Reasons Why Someone Can't Get a Trigger Point Injection?
If you are in good health and have never had an allergic reaction to Lidocaine, Bupivacaine, or cortisone, you should be a good candidate for a trigger point injection. However, if you have a fever, an infection, influenza, or extremely high blood pressure, you won't be considered for trigger point injection treatment until these health issues are resolved. People taking prescription blood thinners (not over-the-counter aspirin) cannot get trigger point injections due to the risk of bleeding.
Can Trigger Point Injections Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain?
A chronic pain disorder affecting the body's soft tissues, fibromyalgia is thought to be a type of autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the body for no known reason. In addition to trigger point pain and myofascial pain syndrome, trigger point injections are also effective for alleviating systemic pain associated with fibromyalgia.
In fact, many people with fibromyalgia eventually develop trigger points that do not respond to OTC pain relievers or standard prescriptions for fibromyalgia.
Southern Coast Specialists is a leading pain management clinic in South Carolina with four different locations in the cities of Charleston, Bluffton, Beaufort, and Hampton. Call the location nearest you to schedule an appointment for trigger pain injections or another pain management treatment.