What are Trigger Points?
Trigger points are localized tender spots in the muscles often detected as lumps or knots. Trigger points form when a muscle is injured, or overly tense. Chronic inflammation in the muscle and physical/emotional stress all contribute to knots and formation of scar tissue which results in trigger points. Trigger points can also form through time by the process of wear and tear on the muscle. Trigger points occur when normal, perpendicular muscle fibers get tangled and distorted out of their uniform pattern. Trigger points are felt as a taut band of inflamed muscle fiber and are painful when pressed.
Many people who have trigger points may also have fibromyalgia and or myofascial pain syndrome.
How Can They Be Treated?
Trigger points can be treated with multiple modalities. Depending on how severe your trigger points are, often a first step would be body work. This can be in the form of therapeutic massage, trigger point release therapy, or soft tissue manipulation therapy (such as Active Release Technique or Graston). In conjunction with bodywork, particularly for more difficult cases, trigger point injections (TPI) can often provide significant relief.
What Are Trigger Point Injections?
In the TPI procedure, our physician inserts a small needle into the patient's trigger point. The injections at our clinic contain either a natural agent called Sarapin or simple local anesthetic, such as lidocaine. With the injection, the trigger point is made inactive and the pain is alleviated. The advantage of the natural plant botanicals like Sarapin is that they are not drugs and have no known side effects and are non-toxic. Corticosteroids are more potent for more severe pains but have multiple side-effects. The trigger point injection will stimulate healing as the circulation is increased into the deeper layer muscle fibers and they can once again return to a uniform pattern.
When are Trigger Point Injections Used?
TPI is used to treat many muscle groups, especially those in the neck, upper back, rotator cuff and lower back. We will often employ TPI with bodywork therapies as well as functional analysis and kinetic reeducation. It can also be used for tendonitis, bursitis or joint pain in the arms and legs. In addition, TPI can be used to treat fibromyalgia and tension headaches. TPI also is used to alleviate myofascial pain syndrome (chronic pain involving tissue that surrounds muscle) that does not respond to other treatments.
How Long Does it Take to Heal?
We have found that a person responds much quicker when TPIs are done in conjunction with acupuncture treatments. This has been found to yield better results than with TPI or acupuncture alone. Injections are performed at Cordoba Health Group in Oakbrook Terrace and Hinsdale and usually take just a few minutes. Several sites may be injected in one visit. It depends on the individual case, some peoples pain will resolve after their first visit, but usually it will take 8-12 visits.