Local joint and muscle pain can be multi-factorial including injury, overuse, posture or poor body mechanics. Chronic local pain is often muscular in nature. The common treatment for simple muscle and joint injury is R.I.C.E. (Rest, ice, compression and elevation). In recent years, chronic pain management is a steadily growing practice in health care. One common procedure in pain management is trigger point injection therapy.
Muscles control joint position and joint movement. When muscles don’t function normally neither does the joint for which it is responsible. A common reason for muscle malfunction is myofascial trigger points or muscle knots.
Trigger points are areas in a muscle that are very irritable. They essentially are a knot in the muscle that when firmly pressed result in a twitch within the affected muscle. A trigger point can also produce pain in a distant area, such as the head and neck, called referred pain. Common tension headaches are a prime example. Regional, persistent muscle pain from trigger points usually results in a decreased range of muscle motion and joint malfunction. Long term joint malfunction can lead to joint arthritis.
WHAT CAUSES TRIGGER POINTS?
Many conditions can cause trigger points. One of the most common causes is acute strain brought on by a sudden stress to the muscle such as a slip on the ice. Another culprit is uniform repetitive motions such as throwing a baseball or hitting a tennis ball. Inactivity which keeps the muscle in a contracted or elongated position for extended periods can also bring on a trigger point such as a poorly designed computer station. Even abnormal joint compression such as wearing slacks too tight at the waist can result in hip, pelvis and low back pain.
WHAT IS A TRIGGER POINT INJECTION?
Trigger point injections are medications such as a local anesthetic injected into the affected muscle. They can relieve the joint and muscle pain not only at the muscle site but also in areas of referred pain. Doctors can safely administer a trigger point injection during an office visit. A typical injection takes just a few minutes.
To determine the best locations for trigger point injection treatment, your doctor will consult with you about your medical history and perform a physical exam. In some cases, diagnostic imaging can help pinpoint the best area for injection. Be sure to let your doctor know of any anti-inflammatory medications or herbal supplements you take.
Finally, trigger point injection procedures can be performed to treat headache and migraines for some people. To learn more, ask us about trigger point injections as an effective means of pain management and whether it is an appropriate treatment for you.
Since 1981, First Health Associates has been providing exceptional health care to residents of Arlington Heights, Mt. Prospect, Schaumburg, Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows, Palatine, Elk Grove and Des Plaines. First Health is an integrative medicine practice that offers: Medical Care; Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine; Counseling and Behavioral Therapy; and Chiropractic Care.
Jason Gruss, MD, FAAPM&R, is the director of First Health Associates Physical Medicine Department.Leave a reply →