Trigger point injections are used to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with chronic forms of back and neck pain. Chronic pain is often caused by tight knots in the back that are located along the spine. The knots can become extremely painful and eventually reduce a person's quality of life. These knots are referred to as trigger points because pain is "triggered" by their presence. A trigger point injection involves injecting a mild anesthetic into each knot. The anesthetic blocks pain signals to and from the knot and also reduces any inflammation that may be present. With the inflammation gone, the tissues around the knot can begin to relax.
Trigger point injections are used when the knots that appear along the spine begin to pull on the small muscles that allow the spine to move freely. Injecting the knots with a mild anesthetic relieves the pain and tension the knots cause and allows the person increased the range of motion without pain or discomfort. Trigger point injections are often used when the knots are hidden by other structures and may not be palpable from the surface. Injections also provide longer periods of relief and allow the patient to return to their regular activities. The more the patient can exercise and keep the area flexible, the less likely the knots are to return.
Trigger point injections have few side effects other than an allergic reaction to the anesthetic used to numb the knot. The patient may report soreness near the injection site and mild tenderness for a few days after the procedure. There may also be a slight discoloration or bruising near the injection site. Most side effects will be mild and produce very little discomfort. The chronic pain that the trigger point injections help to relieve often far surpasses any pain or discomfort that is felt when the shots are used. Each patient will react differently to the injections, and their responses should be closely monitored.