About 20% of Americans suffer from chronic pain, including pain that comes from knotted muscle fibers called trigger points. In fact, in addition to focused pain that happens right around the muscle fibers, trigger points can cause referred pain, too — pain that you feel in other parts of your body.
At Powell Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, Thomas Powell, MD, and his team use a patient-centered, custom approach to managing chronic, acute, and recurring pain. For patients plagued by trigger point-related pain, Dr. Powell often recommends trigger point injections, which can help relax the affected muscle tissue and relieve the painful symptoms. Here’s how these injections work.
The basics of trigger points
Trigger points can form in just about any muscle. Sometimes, they occur after an injury, especially if the injury causes you to change how you use a muscle or muscle group. But they can also happen as a result of muscle strain, overuse, or even bad habits, such as having poor posture.
Most of the time, trigger points form in an area of inflammation in the muscle. Swelling interferes with the way the muscle moves, and eventually, the muscle fibers “stick together” and form trigger points. Sometimes, these muscle “knots” can be felt under the skin.
Trigger points often form in the upper back near the shoulders or neck. If you spend a lot of time hunched over your phone, you’re far more likely to develop trigger points in this area.
When a trigger point forms, you can have a lot of pain and tenderness near the knotted muscle, and you can also have pain in other areas, specifically areas that use the muscle for movement or support. If you have trigger points in your upper back, your symptoms may present as chronic neck pain or even headaches.
How trigger point injections work
Trigger point injections, which combine corticosteroids and anesthetic medication, are delivered directly to the knotted muscle tissue. While the anesthetic provides pain relief, the corticosteroids address the inflammation that tends to cause local and referred pain.
Injections are performed on an outpatient basis, and there’s no downtime afterward. If you have widespread pain, you can choose to have multiple sites injected during one visit. Afterward, it’s common to have some temporary swelling and minor soreness near the site of the injection, similar to the effects that happen after any type of injection, including vaccine injections.
Trigger point injections often provide immediate or prompt relief of chronic pain problems, such as persistent tension headaches and pain that interferes with regular activities, like fibromyalgia. Injections can make it easier to walk, socialize, and even get a good night’s sleep, depending on which muscles are affected.
Trigger point injections can also be administered as a complement to physical therapy. By relaxing tight muscle fibers and relieving pain, injections may make it easier to perform the therapeutic exercises prescribed for your condition.
Relieve your painful trigger points
Trigger points are a common cause of painful symptoms, but they’re not the only cause. Dr. Powell offers tailored pain management solutions based on each patient’s unique needs and symptoms for long-term relief.
To learn more about trigger point injections and other nonsurgical pain management options we offer, call 205-606-5232 or book an appointment online with Powell Orthopedics and Sports Medicine today.