Trigger Point (Myofascial) Pain

What is a “trigger point”?

A trigger point is a very tender spot in the muscle. When this spot is pressed, you feel pain in this spot and in the areas distant from this spot.

There can be different causes for trigger points. Sometimes the muscle is injured during an accident. Sometimes, the muscles tighten up automatically to protect an injured part of your body. Sometimes, long after the injury has healed, a muscle may have forgotten how to relax. This muscle develops a trigger point.

Sudden stretching of the muscle harboring a trigger point causes pain. When this happens, you begin to avoid movements that cause pain, which encourages the muscle to stay shortened and the trigger point in the muscle remains sensitive.

Why is trigger point injection helpful?

Injecting the trigger point in the shortened muscle can reduce pain by freezing the area and by relaxing the shortened muscle. Now the muscle can be stretched without causing pain.

What will happen to me during the injection?

The physician will clean the skin over your trigger points while you are seated. Next, the physician will use a very small needle to administer freezing medicine to the center of the trigger points. The injection could be painful, but the pain relief starts almost immediately after the injection.

What will happen to me after the injection?

The doctor will monitor your pain response. Very often, trigger points are injected over several visits. However, no more than one injection every two or three weeks should be administered in order to give the muscle a chance to recover from the previous injection.

With each injection, the level of pain should be lessening for a longer period of time. Three or four doctor visits should suffice to settle your trigger points.

It is very important to perform daily gentle stretching for the injected muscle. The physician will show you the proper stretching exercises and ensure that you are performing them correctly.

Sometimes, after such injections, a few hours of numbness could lead to a pain flare-up for a few days.