Have you ever had a “knot” or “tight muscle” that you felt like if someone just massaged, pushed on, or injected it with something it would feel a lot better? If you answered “yes,” then you suffer with trigger points.
Trigger points are defined as “discrete, focal, hyperirritable spots located in a taut band of skeletal muscle. These spots are painful on compression and can produce referred pain, referred tenderness, motor dysfunction, and autonomic phenomena.” (Alvarez & Rockwell, 2002)
Many people suffer with recurring trigger points due to improper body mechanics during every day activity. Poor body mechanics from working at a computer, reading, studying, exercise, playing on our cell phones, and other repetitive motion injuries can cause the muscles in our neck, upper back, shoulders, low back, and pelvic girdle to become tight and tense causing a “knot” to form. This “knot” can then cause referral pain (pain that hurts in one place but is really coming from somewhere completely different) to other locations in the body causing things like headaches or a sore elbow.
Treatment Our nurse practitioners are trained to feel the tight muscles to find the trigger points and then inject them with an anesthetic like Lidocaine or Marcaine (medications typically used during surgery and dental work for the numbing effect). When injected into the tight muscles, the medication helps the muscle to relax and makes you feel less tense. Trigger point injections are a wonderful tool to try for overall well-being and maintenance of pain and work with a variety of condistions such as headaches/ migraines, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain.
If you have any questions regarding trigger points or want to see if trigger point injections might help you, feel free to contact either Jessica Cantwell FNP-BC or Sue Wheeler FNP-BC at Apple Health and Wellness.
- Written by Jessica Cantwell, FNP-BC
Alvarez, D. J. and Rockwell, P. G. (2002) Am Fam Physician. Trigger Points: Diagnosis and Management. Retrieved Feb. 4, 2016 http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0215/p653.html#afp20020215p653-b4