This type of treatment is rapidly increasing in popularity.
Trigger point injections involve injecting a numbing agent such as lidocaine and possibly an anti-inflammatory
into the sensitive portion of a tight muscle. Before discussing this therapy, it is important to understand
what a trigger point actually is.
A trigger point refers to a part of a tight muscle that is bound-up and sore to the touch. A tight muscle is
not considered a trigger point, but rather the most tender and painful areas on that muscle. There can be
multiple sensitive areas on a single muscle.
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Since this condition involves the muscle maintaining a consistent contraction, they can lead to pain and
discomfort. They reduce movement efficiency (which increases joint wear and tear), cause joint compression (which
can be painful), and restrict blood flow (which causes a cramping, burning feeling).
None of these traits are particularly desirable, so it is easy to understand why trigger point injections are
becoming so popular. However, opting to inject something into a painful muscle neglects the most important
question: What causes a trigger point in the first place?
The most interesting thing about trigger points is that these are actually created and maintained by the brain.
Since these areas are a prolonged muscular contraction, if the brain is no longer sending out signals to create
that contraction, the trigger point will cease to exist. This is why these sensitive areas are only now piquing the
interest of medical professionals. A tight muscle or part of a muscle cannot be seen during an autopsy or surgery,
as when a person is unconscious (or not alive), the muscular contraction creating the sensitive area ceases to
This is why the most commonly injected substance in trigger point injection therapy is lidocaine (a numbing
agent). The thought process is that it the muscle is numbed, the contraction will stop and the trigger point will
go away. While this is true, the problem is as soon as the medication wears off (less than a day in most cases!),
the tight muscle will return.
That is the real problem with trigger point injections; as soon as the numbing agent that is injected wears off,
the pain and discomfort returns. It is not surprising that this treatment option has a low success rate for long
lasting pain relief. In order to get permanent relief, it is important to understand why these tight areas exist in
the first place. There are two common reasons why muscles have excess tension.
The first reason the brain will create a tight area is to prevent you from moving an injured joint. For example,
if you have a herniated disc, the brain can use tight muscles to prevent you from moving the spine and as a result
protect the back from further injury. This effect is protective and in this instance, trigger point injections can
actually be harmful as they eliminate the body's own protective mechanisms.
The other primary reason for these tight muscles to exist is the result of postural and muscle imbalances. When
two muscles on either side of a joint (such as the lower back muscular and the front hip musculature) are
imbalanced, one muscle group inevitably becomes tight as it is able to easily dominate the opposite muscle
The best way to correct this is with muscle imbalance therapy. Rather than opting for trigger point injections,
I strongly recommend checking out the free book, The 7 Day Back Pain Cure, for more information on
muscle imbalance therapy and how you can use it to reduce your back pain.
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