A trigger point is a specific spot in your muscle that is painful and tender when pressure is applied, they can also cause ‘referred’ pain in other areas of your body. This is something that I suffer from.
It’s common to have trigger points if you have fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome, both of which I have been diagnosed with as they are very similar conditions. The muscles most commonly affected by trigger points are in your neck, shoulder and pelvic area. Mine are worst in my low back causing referred pain down my bottom and leg.
You are given trigger point injections to help reduce pain and stiffness and allow you to move the affected muscle more easily. The effects of a successful trigger point injection can last from a few weeks to several months. My last one was last August which lasted for a good three months.
They inject the point with local anaesthetic and steroids to help to reduce the feeling and the swelling of the effected muscles.
Most trigger point injections are performed in theatre under x ray but some can be done at a doctor’s surgery, mine have always been done in the theatre. You are told to stop taking some type of drugs three days before the procedure but your doctor goes through this with you.
The doctor will find your trigger point by applying pressure with his or her thumb and finger to the affected area which is then cleaned with a sterile wipe ready for the injection. The injection that I have was repeated several times until the doctor feels your muscle is no longer tight or twitching.
You are then taken back to recovery where they check your BP for a short time and give you a drink and a biscuit and when they are happy with your stats they then let you go home. They ask you to get someone to pick you up and walk with you, and you are not allowed to drink alcohol, drive or operate machinery for 24 hrs.
They tell you to expect some discomfort as the local anaesthetic wears off (which I did) and that your pain can sometimes feel worse (which mine didn’t). You can then carry on taking your drugs as normal.
When you sign the consent form they inform you that there are some risks associated with trigger point injections, but that’s the same with any procedure like this. The only complications that can occur are infection, bruising, loss of sensation ( a damaged nerve) or muscle weakness but these don’t often occur.
With pain clinics opening at many hospitals now, a lot more people are having this sort of treatment as an option to pain relief. This has caused waiting lists to lengthen and certainly over the last ten years I have seen my wait change from a matter of weeks to months. I am no where near the top of the list for another injection yet. I first have a telephone consultation with my pain doctor next week. The only trouble with the delay is that the pain becomes chronic again which then makes it more complicated to ease, but at least we are lucky enough to have this facility in the UK.