Trigger Point Injections: How They Help Manage Pain
Trigger Point Injections (TPIs) are a popular pain management technique that requires injecting a local anesthetic mixed with steroids directly onto muscle trigger points to relieve unbearable muscle pain.
But there's more to this procedure than what meets the eye. Let's learn more about Trigger Point Injections and when you might need them.
What Exactly is a Trigger Point?
As the name suggests, Trigger Points are the central areas of inflammation of the affected skeletal muscle. More often than not, these are tender regions on a palpable nodule in the muscle and radiate intense pain if pushed.
It is generally observed that the rhomboid and trapezius muscles present in the upper back trigger neck pain, shoulder pain, and headaches. While these trigger points usually result from chronic musculoskeletal disorders like Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome, repetitive injuries can also lead to their development.
What Can a Trigger Point Injection Include?
Broadly stated, Trigger Point Injections include a local anesthetic like lidocaine, which is meant to numb the muscle's pain receptors. It can also house a corticosteroid that reduces muscle inflammation and the connective tissue surrounding the nerves.
Moreover, the TPI can also include carry botulinum toxin A (Botox), which prevents eventual muscle contractions by blocking the nerve signaling pathways.
During the procedure, the specialist usually inserts a needle into the myofascial trigger point leading to the targeted injection of the medicines. Patients are expected to feel a crunching sensation during the injecting process, which eventually subsides as the pain eases.
Trigger Point Injections: Uses
In some sense, Fibromyalgia resembles arthritis but affects the soft tissue instead of the joints.
The usual symptoms include pain and stiffness accompanied by headaches. Patients also experience numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, gastric complications, erratic sleeping patterns, depression, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating.
It is generally diagnosed in patients experiencing tenderness in certain trigger points. Systemic pain originates from neurological problems affecting the brain's ability to process sensory information.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
TPIs also effectively reduce widespread chronic pain in muscles and surrounding tissue due to Myofascial Pain Syndrome.
Since this syndrome causes referred pains (trigger points stimulating pain responses in unrelated body parts), TPIs ease the pain by interrupting the nerve signaling pathways responsible for causing referred pain.
Myofascial trigger points near the head often lead to stress headaches and migraine pains.
And since these myofascial trigger points directly determine the intensity of the pain/headache, Trigger Point Injections are a worthwhile remedy to relieve the pain.
Risks to Consider
Trigger Point Injections don't usually lead to serious complications, but they might lead to one or few of the following:
● infection at the site of the injection
● nerve or muscle damage
● gas accumulation between the lungs and the chest wall, which might lead to the collapse of one or both lungs (rare)
Although TPIs offer instant pain relaxation followed by an increased range of motion of the affected region, their effect on different patients is not uniform. Some exceptional subjects do not experience immediate relief, while others do not benefit at all.
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