Chronic pain is an unfortunate reality for many individuals. It is a complex and often misunderstood condition that can affect virtually every aspect of a person’s life — physically, emotionally, and mentally.
One treatment option that has gained attention in recent years is the use of trigger point injections. What exactly are trigger points? How do they contribute to chronic pain? Can trigger point injections provide noticeable relief?
Understanding Trigger Points
Trigger points are small, tight knots of muscle fibers that can form in muscles due to overuse, strain, or injury. These knots can be felt under the skin and are often tender to the touch.
Trigger points can cause pain directly at their location and even spread or transfer pain to other areas of the body. This “referred” pain can contribute to chronic pain conditions and make daily activities difficult to perform.
Some common conditions associated with trigger points include myofascial pain syndrome, tension headaches, and neck and back pain. These conditions can be debilitating and negatively impact a person’s quality of life — sometimes for years.
What Are Trigger Point Injections?
Trigger point injections are a minimally invasive procedure in which a medical practitioner injects a medication directly into the trigger point to alleviate pain. The medications used in trigger point injections typically include local anesthetics (such as lidocaine or bupivacaine) to numb the area and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. In some cases, a combination of both types of medications may be used.
The injection works by disrupting the nerve signals in the trigger point, which helps to relax the tight muscle fibers and alleviate pain. This can provide rapid relief for patients suffering from chronic pain related to trigger points.
Benefits of Trigger Point Injections
Most patients experience several advantages from trigger point injections as a treatment for their chronic pain:
Rapid Pain Relief
It’s common for many chronic pain sufferers to feel immediate relief after the procedure, which can be especially beneficial for those who have been struggling with chronic pain for an extended period.
Reduced Muscle Tension
The injection relaxes the tight muscle fibers associated with trigger points, which can decrease tension while improving overall comfort.
Improved Range of Motion
As muscle tension is reduced, patients may find that they have increased flexibility and movement in the affected area.
Potential for Long-Term Pain Management
Depending on the underlying cause of the pain, trigger point injections may provide long-lasting relief and help manage chronic pain over time.
Risks and Side Effects
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks and potential side effects associated with trigger point injections, including:
- Minor pain or discomfort at the injection site (usually temporary)
- Bleeding or bruising
- Allergic reactions to the medication used in the injection
Certain medications used in trigger point injections, such as corticosteroids, carry additional risks, including potential damage to nearby tissues or weakening of muscles and tendons. Discuss these risks with your healthcare provider and weigh them against the potential benefits of the treatment.
To minimize risks and side effects, choose a qualified medical professional who is trained and experienced in assessing pain conditions and administering trigger point injections. By maintaining proper aftercare and following your provider’s instructions, patients can reduce any potential complications.
What to Expect During and After the Procedure
Before undergoing a trigger point injection, you may need to stop taking certain medications (such as blood thinners) but always consult with your healthcare provider about any other special preparation requirements. On the day of the procedure, your provider will position you comfortably and locate the trigger point by palpating the tender area.
During the procedure itself, your practitioner will clean the skin around the injection site and use a small needle to inject the medication directly into the trigger point. The process is typically quick, lasting only a few minutes.
After the procedure, you may experience some soreness or discomfort at the injection site, which can generally be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers or ice packs. Your healthcare provider will likely provide specific instructions for post-procedure care and any necessary follow-up appointments.
Costs and Insurance Coverage
The cost of trigger point injections can vary depending on factors such as the number of injections needed, the medications used, clinic location, and the provider’s fees. In general, trigger point injections are lower cost procedures ranging from $100 to $500 per injection.
Insurance coverage for trigger point injections differs by plan and provider. Discuss your coverage with your healthcare provider and insurance company to understand any out-of-pocket costs you may be responsible for.
Alternatives to Trigger Point Injections
While trigger point injections can be an effective treatment option for some individuals suffering from chronic pain, they may not be appropriate for everyone. Your healthcare provider may recommend alternative treatments for chronic pain such as:
- Physical therapy
- Medication management
- Another pain management procedure
- Massage therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
Trigger Point Injections with HPM
As with any medical treatment, be sure to discuss your options with your healthcare provider to determine if trigger point injections are an appropriate option for managing your chronic pain. We know how difficult it can be to suffer from chronic pain, so it’s critical to find the right treatment for your specific condition.
At HPM, we specialize in treating a long list of conditions that cause chronic pain. Our medical practitioners receive extensive training in pain management on top of their medical education and certifications. Our team of pain management specialists takes the time to listen closely to their patients’ pain stories, evaluate their symptoms and medical history, and create an individualized treatment plan.
We focus specifically on serving rural areas that don’t typically offer specialized healthcare. Contact us to find out if we have a clinic near you.