If you struggle with a pain condition, you may feel like you would like another treatment option. Lifestyle changes and medications can help many pain conditions. But some painful conditions need a specific procedure. A procedure known as a trigger point injection can help bring you relief from pain.

Here’s what you need to know about trigger point injections and how they can help.

Man giving a trigger point injection

What are trigger point injections?

A trigger point injection is a medical procedure. During the procedure, a medical provider injects a numbing medicine into a specific area of your body. This may be an area where you have been having pain, or where you feel a specific “knot.” The numbing medicine is an anesthetic, which means it numbs the tissues in the area of injection. This can help dull or completely resolve the sensation of pain. This can bring you relief that lasts from a few days to a month. Sometimes a healthcare provider will add a steroid medicine into the injection mixture. This can help decrease inflammation around the area of the injection. Decreasing inflammation can also help with the pain.

What health conditions can trigger point injections help with?

A trigger point injection can help when you have a painful condition of your muscle tissue known as a “trigger point.” A trigger point is a collection of inflamed muscle tissue and other soft tissue known as “fascia.” Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and it lies flat in a thin sheet. Sometimes, this sheet may become inflamed or knotted, causing a “trigger point.” You may be able to feel your trigger point as a tender lump or bump underneath your skin. These trigger points can form anywhere in your muscle tissue, but they more commonly form in your neck, jaw, back, or upper or lower extremities.

A trigger point can feel tight or sore. It may limit your range of motion. Painful trigger points can cause other health conditions, such as headaches or nerve pain. Trigger points are connected to the following health conditions:[1]

  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Tension headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Groin pain
  • Joint pain

A trigger point may form for many reasons. These include an injury, strain, repetitive use, poor posture, or compensation from another injury. Regardless of why a trigger point forms, getting a trigger point injection can help bring you relief.

Do trigger point injections work?

Yes. Trigger point injections from a certified healthcare professional can relieve pain. A trigger point injection works by numbing your trigger point. This means your healthcare provider targets specific tissue that is causing your discomfort. This helps release the tension in your muscle and inactivate your trigger point. When your muscle relaxes, blood flow increases. Better blood flow can help your body clear more inflammation. This can help bring you relief even after the numbing medicine wears off.

The mere process of injecting a trigger point can also help release some of the tension and pressure even without using medicine. This type of trigger point therapy is “dry needling.”[2]

How do trigger point injections work?

A trigger point injection works in a couple of ways. First, it delivers a numbing medicine, or anesthesia, directly to the area where you are having discomfort. The numbing medicine bathes the nerve endings in this specific area, so pain signals are no longer sent to your brain. During a trigger point injection, the needle can also help relax the muscle tissue and release tension. Relaxing your muscle helps increase blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow can help clear inflammatory cells. This can bring you even longer-lasting relief. Other kinds of therapy can also help relieve trigger points. These include stretching, massage, physical therapy, or an ultrasound machine.[3]

What are the benefits of trigger point injections?

Many people struggle with painful muscle conditions. One of the benefits of a trigger point injection is immediate pain relief. A trigger point injection procedure delivers pain medications right where you need them. This can be more direct compared to other forms of pain management. A trigger point injection only places medicine locally. This can be more efficient than an oral medication that must be broken down by your liver before it takes effect. A healthcare provider may also recommend a trigger point injection if you have another health condition like an allergy to pain medicine.

After a trigger point injection, you may have decreased pain. If your trigger point is in a place where it is causing another health condition, such as a tension headache, you may have fewer headaches. If a trigger point is restricting you from movement, you may enjoy an increased range of motion and more enjoyment out of everyday activities.

What are the side effects of trigger point injections?

A trigger point injection may cause a bit of discomfort during the procedure itself. You may feel a burning sensation, pinching, or stinging as the needle is placed. But, this will quickly improve as the medication begins to take action.

Other side effects are possible with a trigger point injection. A trigger point injection can cause the following reactions:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Bruising
  • Injury to blood vessels or deeper structures
  • Fainting

Although these side effects are possible, serious side effects are rare. Experts do not recommend a trigger point injection if you have a skin infection in the area of injection. If your trigger point cannot be fully felt by your healthcare provider, the procedure is also not recommended.

Experts recommend caution if you:[4]

  • Are taking blood thinners
  • Are pregnant
  • Are allergic to anesthesia
  • Have a history of forming keloids
  • Are afraid of needles

What can I expect during an appointment for trigger point injections? Will the injections hurt?

During a trigger point injection procedure, you may either be seated or lying down. Your position depends on the location of your trigger point. After you are in a comfortable position, you may expect the following steps:

  • Your healthcare practitioner will first locate the exact area of your trigger point. Touching this trigger point may cause slight pain and you may jump or twitch. This will tell your healthcare provider that they have found the correct spot.
  • Your healthcare practitioner will examine the trigger point to understand its exact size. Your healthcare provider may mark the area with a skin marker.
  • Your healthcare practitioner will use a cleaning solution to sterilize the skin above the trigger point. They may also use a spray to numb your skin.
  • Your healthcare practitioner will use a long, thin needle to pierce your skin. They will begin injecting into the trigger point tissue. You may feel a pinching or burning sensation during this process.
  • Your healthcare practitioner may withdraw the needle and reinsert the needle in a specific motion. This helps deliver more medication and loosen up the trigger point tissue.
  • After the injection, your healthcare provider may stretch out the muscle tissue. They may also show you specific stretching exercises to use at home.

The entire procedure will likely take less than five minutes. When it is complete, your healthcare practitioner will place pressure on the injection site to control any bleeding.

What can I expect after receiving a trigger point injection?

Experts recommend that you rest the area of your trigger point injection for 1 to 2 days after the procedure.[5] You should also avoid activities that are strenuous for this period. But, it is important to keep stretching the area so that it continues to stay relaxed instead of stiffening.

After receiving a trigger point injection, you may notice some soreness or tenderness in the area of the procedure. This may be followed by improvement in your pain in your trigger point. You may notice a reduction in the size of your trigger point lump or bump. You may have slight bruising or swelling in the area of the procedure. This is normal and will go away on its own after a few days.

How long do trigger point injections last?

A trigger point injection is a helpful pain relief tool. After an injection, you may have pain relief for up to one month.[6] Trigger-point injections can be used along with oral pain medications and physical therapy. The combination of these methods may help you achieve longer pain relief. You may need to have a repeat injection to further control your pain. You may also need to be on an injection schedule, depending on your condition.

How Boardwalk Physical Medicine can help with pain management

At Boardwalk Physical Medicine, we want to increase your wellness in every aspect of your life. This includes pain management. If you have been suffering from a muscular pain condition, a trigger point injection may help. Make sure to contact us today to learn more about how our healthcare providers can assist you with trigger point injections.


[1] Trigger Point Injections. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542196/

[2] Trigger Point Injection. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1997731-overview#a2

[3] Trigger Points. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Trigger_Points

[4] Trigger Point: Contraindications. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542196/

[5] Trigger Point Injection Technique. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1997731-technique#c2

[6] Trigger Point Injections. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17582-trigger-point-injection