If trigger points are triggering back pain, then a trigger point injection might just be what triggers relief.
So what’s a trigger point anyway?
A trigger point is a tiny knot of muscle that develops when a muscle has been overworked or injured – acute trauma or repetitive microtraumas that can lead to the development of stress on muscle fibers and the formation of trigger points. They can also be described as discrete, focal, hyperirritable spots in a taut band of skeletal muscle.
These knots or spots create pain at their precise location or refer pain to different areas of the body. Referred pain – or pain that radiates – is often due to the trigger point resting on or near a nerve. Trigger points frequently accompany chronic musculoskeletal disorders.
Pulling the trigger on the pain with trigger point injections
If back pain is the target, then the trigger point is the bull’s eye. But rather than an arrow, a thin needle – similar to that of an acupuncturist’s – is used after your physician first identifies the trigger points and marks the locations. There are some different medications available for effective trigger point injections, and the medical provider would also make that determination. However, most commonly, the therapeutic injection is comprised of a numbing agent such as Lidocaine combined with an extremely low-dose steroid.
- The patient’s skin is sterilized with alcohol.
- The tiny needle is used to inject the medicine to the trigger points.
- A small sharp pinch is felt when the needle hits the painful location – typically about half of what would be experienced with a bee sting.
- Our providers are trained and certified in this procedure. This is what they specialize in. They’re like the thoracic surgeons of trigger point injections – not just someone who dabbles or took a weekend course.
- The procedure takes only a few minutes, but the patient is monitored until provided with after-care instructions.
- The injection site might be sore and the pain can temporarily increase until the medication takes effect. Complete pain relief and healing may take up to two weeks. Using ice for the first 24 hours (in 20- to 30-minute intervals) and moist heat thereafter can help manage any discomfort.
- Patients are advised to take it easy for a day or so.
Calming concerns about the steroid
The steroid helps with inflammation. This is NOTHING like having a steroid injection that lasts three to six months, wherein the steroid is the primary therapeutic treatment. Rather, Pain Stop North Phoenix uses a safe, low-dose steroid to assist the muscle to relax and heal – readying it for further treatment.
When the muscle relaxes, blood flow to that muscle increases. And as the muscle heals – and pain and inflammation decrease – other modalities such as massage therapy and physiotherapy can be effectively used because the body is now able to respond.
The first step in back pain relief is a complimentary exam at Pain Stop North Phoenix, where the source of your pain will be diagnosed. If it’s a kidney infection, for example, which can cause marked back pain, you’ll be referred to the proper specialist. But if there’s a musculoskeletal issue triggering your back pain, we’ll trigger the right treatment.
By Erin Waychoff, DC
Owner of Pain Stop North Phoenix