Curious about what makes a trigger point injection special? Read on to find out more!
Chronic Pain & Trigger Point Injections
Many of us suffer from chronic pain in various areas of our bodies. Often, the go-to solutions don’t work as well as we hope, and they can have damaging side effects. For example, acetaminophen can take a toll on the liver, while ibuprofen may damage the lining of the gut over time. Rest doesn’t always help, and, while physical therapy can be a great long term solution, sometimes we need things that are more immediate.
Enter: trigger point injections.
What is a trigger point injection?
In essence, a trigger point injection is one where the site of injection is in the locus of the muscular pain. The injection itself, that is, the physical act of poking the muscle with the needle, is often enough to relieve pain, as it releases the tension in a given knot. Our patients often have dry needling done, where no medication is actually injected.
When we want a more aggressive treatment, we can inject the zone of pain with lidocaine, a numbing agent. This allows for immediate relief, while the action of the needle itself releases the tension over days. As such, the immediate relief of lidocaine is coupled with the longer tension-releasing result of the dry needling.
How does lidocaine actually work?
Essentially, our sensory nerves send signals to our brain when provided a harmful stimulus, causing the sensation we experience as pain. Lidocaine functions by slowing that signal to the brain, allowing us to feel relief from the constant pain signaling in a distressed tissue. If you’re familiar with the dental numbing agent novocaine, you can compare lidocaine to it as a similarly acting drug.
What if I need something more aggressive?
Finally, a more comprehensive solution to chronic pain is the trigger point injection with steroids + lidocaine. As mentioned, the dry needling action relieves tension, and the lidocaine provides immediate pain relief. The steroid helps calm the body’s inflammatory response, allowing the area to actually heal, thus reducing the pain. The only downside is that excessive steroid use can weaken tissues, so this is a treatment used more sparingly than the other forms of trigger point injections.