Trigger Point Block

A trigger point block is an injection into an area of muscle spasm.  The medication can include anesthetics like Novocain.  It sometimes includes steroids for inflammation.  Its goal is to reduce spasm and break what is called a vicious cycle.  Untreated, spasm causes muscle injury, which causes more muscle spasm, more injury and so on.  If one can get rid of the spasm, it may not come back.

Where will the medicine be injected?

Trigger point injections can be done anywhere there is a muscle.  The commonest places that have spasm and large knots (the trigger points) are the trapezii muscles of the shoulders, the rhomboids between the shoulder blades, and the low back.

Are there risks?

Problems are uncommon.  Rarely, there can be bleeding or infection from any shot.  A nerve can be injured by shots in some areas.  Trigger points over the chest have a small chance of causing a pneumothorax, a condition where air gets outside of the lung and needs to be removed by placing a c chest tube (a tube inside the chest but outside of the lung) for a day or two.  As with any procedure, the chance of injury (risk) needs to be less than the chance of improvement.  If the risk of injury is more than the likelihood of improvement, there would be no reason to do the procedure.

How long will it take?

You can expect to be in the doctor's office for about twenty minutes.  You are asked to stay that long to make sure that you do not have a reaction to the medication.  Normally you do not need a ride home.  If the block is in an arm or leg, we ask you to bring a driver.

You may have some extremity numbness for a short while after the procedure. This is normal.

Are there any restrictions afterward?

After this type of block, we ask you to relax for a day or two and then resume your normal exercises.  The area of the injection should, however, be stretched out a few times in the first twenty-four hours.  If you do not know the stretches, ask the doctor.

Go to the next page on epidural blocks.

Go to the next chapteron major procedures.

Go to the chapter on medicines and orthotics.






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Last modified: 07/27/08