Trigger Point Injections (TPI)

Every muscle in the body has a specific purpose and function. When certain muscle groups are not functioning appropriately, other muscle groups try to compensate and end up hurting themselves in the process.

What Are Trigger Points?

Trigger Points (TP) are the result of “muscles of motion” doing the work for “muscles of posture.” Trigger Point Injections (TPI) are used to break up adhesions – an abnormal muscular response due to inflammation and/or trauma – and chronically contracted muscles.

When TPs are not addressed, muscle memory can kick in, causing recurrent contraction of the muscle which can prevent other various treatments (chiropractic, physical therapy, massage therapy, etc.) from being optimally beneficial.

A TP is commonly referred to as a ‘knot,’ or a tight ropy band of muscle that forms when a muscle fails to relax. The knot can often be felt underneath the skin and may twitch involuntarily when touched (called a jump sign). The TP can trap or irritate surrounding nerves and sometimes can cause referred pain, which is discomfort felt in another area of the body. Scar tissue, loss of range of motion, and weakness related to TPs may develop over time.

How Can Trigger Point Therapy Help?

By doing TPI therapy, the adhesions – or knots – can be broken up resulting in immediate relief of pain, in addition to an immediate improvement in function.

When used in conjunction with other therapies, such as chiropractic therapy and physical therapy, it helps to achieve optimal goals of pain relief, increased range of motion, and overall function.

Trigger Point FAQs

What causes trigger points?

Trigger points can become problematic for a number of reasons. Patients may develop trigger points because of injury to muscle tissue. Examples of muscular injury include whiplash, overuse of a muscle group, or a post viral syndrome. Trigger points may also occur because of an underlying structural problem. Spinal abnormalities such as herniated and degenerative discs, scoliosis, postural problems, and osteoarthritis are examples of conditions commonly associated with trigger points.

How can one detect a trigger point?

Trigger points are diagnosed by physical examination. The examiner palpates muscles for tender areas over taut bands and knots. X-rays, biopsies, and laboratory tests are of no use in detecting trigger points, but they may be helpful in revealing an underlying condition.

What happens during the procedure?

In the TPI procedure, our provider inserts a small needle into the patient’s trigger point. The injection contains a combination of local anesthetics. With the injection, the trigger point is broken up; which can alleviate pain, but most importantly improves the body’s function. Injections usually take just a few minutes, and several sites may be injected in one visit. If a patient has an allergy to a certain medication, a dry-needle technique (involving no medications) can be used.

When is trigger point injection used?

TPI is used to treat many muscle groups, especially those in the arms, legs, neck, upper back, mid-back, and lower back. In addition, TPI can be used to treat fibromyalgia and tension headaches. TPI also is used to alleviate myofascial pain syndrome (chronic pain involving tissue that surrounds muscle) that does not respond to other treatments.

What happens after trigger point Injections?

You may experience soreness, bruising, or tenderness at the injection site. This is normal and should dissipate over the next 24-48 hours. Stretching can be beneficial in relieving the tightness of muscles and is recommended in preventing further contraction of muscles.

Are there any side effects associated with trigger point injections?

Trigger point injections are minimally invasive. Patients may feel some injection site tenderness following the injection as the local anesthetic wears off. Patients will sometimes feel a little dizzy for up to an hour if multiple trigger points are injected with a large dose of local anesthetic.

Do trigger point injections hurt?

You can expect to feel the injection of the needle as a poking sensation followed by a warm sensation as the anesthetic is injected.

How long do the effects of trigger point injections last?

A definitive answer is not possible because it depends on the nature of the patient’s condition. The local anesthetic will numb the area for approximately one to three hours. The major benefit of trigger point injections is to allow the patient to more effectively participate in a rehabilitative program. Trigger point injections loosen muscle groups thereby improving patient progress in chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, and joint mobilization.

Are trigger point Injections covered by insurance?

Most major insurance companies cover TPIs, but individual copays may vary.

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