What to Expect at a Trigger Point Injection Appointment


What is a trigger point injection?

Trigger points are painful “knots” — hard, palpable nodules — that can form in muscles. They are sore or painful when pressed. Trigger points develop when a muscle is unable to relax. A trigger point injection (TPI) involves injecting a local anesthetic or saline into the trigger point to decrease pain. The injection may also contain a corticosteroid.

What to expect at a trigger point injection appointment

A trigger point injection is typically performed in a physician’s office. The individual sits or lies on an exam table, depending on the location of the trigger point. The area is sanitized with an alcohol pad, and the exact location may be marked.

The tissue is stabilized by pinching the trigger point, which can cause discomfort. A small needle, containing anesthetic, saline and/or steroid, is inserted into the trigger point. The muscle may spasm or twitch; however, the provider continues the up-and-down pumping motion until the twitching stops and the muscle relaxes. The medication is then injected.

Trigger point injections may sting or burn, and can cause a brief increase of pain as the needle hits the trigger point. Although the muscle may be used following the injection, strenuous physical activity should be avoided for the first few days.