A Guide to Trigger Point Injections | BEST

What are Trigger Points?

Trigger points are a painful and debilitating condition, often manifesting themselves in a person’s neck or back. Although someone with trigger points might say that they have “muscle knots,” and might even be able to feel knots under their skin, their muscles are not actually knotted. Instead, a trigger point develops when a small portion of myofascia (the tissue covering the muscle) tightly contracts and adheres to itself, cutting off its blood supply and preventing the underlying muscle from working correctly. 

There are many lifestyle factors that can lead someone to develop trigger points in the neck, middle back, or lower back, including the following:

  • Injury to the muscle
  • Overuse of the muscle
  • Repeated stress on the muscle
  • Poor posture
  • Misuse of the muscle
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Joint disorders

What are Symptoms of Trigger Points?

Someone living with trigger points may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Fatigue

Notably, the pain resulting from a trigger point is localized, meaning that it will increase when pressure is applied to the area. It may also increase with use of the affected muscle, although patients may also experience persistent pain. The pain may come across as a burning sensation or as a dull ache. Additionally, one of the unique characteristics of trigger points, distinguishing them from tender points, is that trigger points cause referred pain. Trigger points can also mimic or further complicate other pain issues, such as disc pain or arthritis. 

How do Trigger Point Injections Work?

It is important to promptly seek treatment for trigger points, as failing to do so can place undue stress on the surrounding muscles, eventually causing the development of additional trigger points. Many people find relief from trigger point pain by following a conservative course of treatment, potentially including pain medications, physical therapy, stretching, or hot and cold therapy. If someone attempts treatments like these for several weeks or months and is unable to find relief, they may want to consider trigger point injections. 

During this procedure, a medical professional injects a local anesthetic or saline, as well as a corticosteroid, into the patient’s trigger points, thereby inactivating the trigger points and relieving the patient’s pain. If the patient has certain drug allergies, the medical professional might instead use a “dry needling” technique, where they insert the needle into the affected muscle without injecting any medication. Trigger point injections can be given to patients with trigger points in the neck, upper/central back and lower back. 

Injections in the Lumbar Back

Trigger points in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine often occur in the quadratus lumborum muscle, which is located in the back of the abdomen, and which connects the spine to the pelvis. The pain caused by these trigger points, which may be so intense as to prevent someone from standing, can often manifest itself in the following areas of the body

  • Lower back
  • Hips
  • Groin 
  • Genitalia
  • Lower buttocks

Injections in the Thoracic Spine

Trigger points in the thoracic (middle) spine may cause pain in a number of muscles, making it difficult for individuals to perform routine tasks. These trigger points have two phases:

  • Active – Pain is constant and debilitating
  • Latent – Pain is not felt unless pressure is applied to the area surrounding the trigger point

Injections in the Cervical Spine

Trigger points in the cervical spine, if not treated quickly, can manifest a variety of other conditions including:

  • Bursitis
  • Cold symptoms
  • Eye issues
  • Migraines/tension headaches
  • Temporomandibular joint pain
  • Tendinitis
  • Vertigo

BEST Health System

If you are interested in learning more about injections for trigger points, contact BEST Health System today. Our dedicated team will help you navigate your path towards recovery and make sure you are in the best hands. It’s time to take the first step. The BEST is yet to come.