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Trigger Points & Trigger Point Injections 


A trigger point is a small area in a muscle that is very sensitive to touch or pressure.  It can be extremely painful.  Injury, overexertion, muscle tension, and muscle spasms are common causes of trigger points.  They most frequently occur in the neck, back, and shoulders.  Trigger point injections relax the muscle and relieve pain by placing medications in the trigger point. 


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Your muscles contract and relax whenever you move.  If a muscle does not relax completely, a very tight band of muscle fibers can spasm and form  a trigger point.

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Traumatic injury, overexertion, muscle tension, muscle spasms, pinched nerves, and hormonal deficiencies are common causes of trigger points.

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A trigger point can cause extreme pain. It may feel tender, hard, or twitch when you touch it. In some cases, a trigger point can irritate surrounding nerves causing pain to spread to nearby areas (referred pain).  Your pain may limit your ability to move comfortably.

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You should tell your doctor about your symptoms and any activities, injury, or conditions that you suspect may have contributed to your problem.  Your doctor will examine you by carefully feeling the muscle area.  The muscle may be gently pressed to identify  areas of referred pain. 

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Therapeutic modalities, such as ultrasound and manipulative therapy, can be beneficial for some people.  However, trigger point injections are considered the most effective way to inactivate a trigger point for prompt symptom relief.  The injected medication usually consists of an anesthetic to relax the area and relieve pain.  A steroid medication is sometimes included in the injection.

Trigger point injections can be administered at a doctor’s office.  The treatment time is short, usually lasting several minutes. You may receive a nerve block or local anesthetic prior to your trigger point injection to prevent pain.  To deliver the trigger point injection, your doctor will insert a small needle into the trigger point and inject the medication. 

You  will be provided with instructions to reduce initial pain and swelling at the treatment site.  Trigger point injections are usually followed by physical therapy  aimed at pain relief and muscle stretching.  In some cases, trigger point injections may be repeated.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit