Trigger Point Injections: What You Should Know

Trigger Point Injections: What You Should Know

Richard Kang, MD Blog

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Trigger point injections can be very helpful for pain conditions that involve the muscles of the back, neck, legs, or arms; some conditions include fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and myofascial pain syndrome. A trigger point is a knot of tightly bound muscle tissue that forms when the muscles are unable to fully relax. You may be able to feel trigger points as hard knots under the skin. Trigger points cause pain when they irritate the nerves around them. They may also cause referred pain, which is felt in a different area of the body.

What Happens During a Trigger Point Injection?

We will insert a small, sterile needle into the trigger point to help it relax. Depending on the specifics of your condition, we may inject local anesthetic, saline, and/or an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid into the muscle. Another option is dry needling (with or without electrical stimulation), which relies solely on the needle without injecting any medications at all. The procedure takes just a few minutes, and we can treat multiple trigger points at the same time.

Benefits of Trigger Point Injections

While everyone gets muscle knots from time to time, trigger points are more tightly bound than simple muscle knots. They can be extremely difficult and time consuming to release through massage or similar hands-on techniques. The needle stimulates the muscle tissue directly, encouraging it to relax. Local anesthetic and saline aid healing and reduce pain, while corticosteroids reduce inflammation and calm irritated nerves.

What to Expect After Your Trigger Point Injection

A trigger point injection is a minimally invasive procedure that typically has few to no side effects. You may feel slightly irritated or bruised at the injection site, but this generally subsides quickly. You can return to your normal activities right away, though we urge you to wait 24 hours before engaging in strenuous or vigorous activity.

Complications are rare, but they are possible with any medical procedure. Let us know right away if you experience bleeding or swelling at the injection site, a high fever, or other signs of possible infection. If you have diabetes and we inject a corticosteroid, monitor your blood sugar closely for the next several days. Steroids often cause a temporary spike in blood sugar, which should resolve in less than a week.


Trigger point injections are considered safe and effective for most people. They are not appropriate for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are on a blood thinning medication, talk to your prescribing physician. The increased risk of bleeding from the procedure must be weighed against the health risks of temporarily stopping the medication.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are ready for a new, fully integrated approach to health and wellness, contact CORE Medical & Wellness today at 888-521-0688 to learn more or schedule your appointment!

Dr. Richard Kang is double board certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine, and he  completed an interventional pain medicine fellowship at the prestigious New York Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia University – College of Physicians and Surgeons.  Read his full bio here.