Myofascial Trigger Points
Normal muscle is made up of different fibers and components that are intricately assembled to allow the muscle to contract and release. However, sometimes a muscle can contract for a sustained amount of time when you have suffered an injury such as:
- Trauma to the muscle
- Strain from repetitive use
- Poor posture
- Spinal conditions like herniated discs
This reaction of sustained muscle tightness is called a trigger point. Trigger points are chronic areas of muscle tightness that are local and sometimes irritable. If the trigger point is not painful it is called a “latent” trigger point. If the muscle is painful, irritable and impossible to relax it is referred to as an “active” trigger point. These active trigger points, if left untreated, can cause limited mobility, poor posture, chronic pain and more trigger points to develop.
Trigger Point Injections
Injecting an active trigger point with anesthetic, saline or just a needle can help relax the muscle, improve blood flow to the muscle and prevent further trigger points from forming. Trigger point injections can promote healing to the overused muscle and relieve pain.
What to expect during the procedure
The skin is cleaned with an antiseptic. Then a numbing spray is used on the skin around the muscle. A small needle is inserted into the active trigger point. You may feel the needle being inserted and the muscle “jump” during the injection. Then a process of “needling” the muscle is started. The term “needling” refers to moving the needle around once inserted in the muscle to break away knotted fibers. This may be a little uncomfortable, but it is proven to alleviate pain and enhance the success of the injection. Once the needling is done, Lidocaine may be inserted into the muscle. Sometimes no Lidocaine is inserted depending on your condition. This process is called “dry needling”.
You may experience some numbness for about an hour after the injection. There may be stiffness and soreness for no longer than 1 to 2 days. You may remove the band-aid dots when you get home. You also may be referred for physical care after the procedure which may include chiropractic, laser or manual therapies to further release the muscle.