If you suffer from headaches or chronic pain in your neck, shoulders, muscles, or joints, then you probably have KNOTS in your muscles that are either the cause of the pain or contributing to it.
Why Do Knots Form? Factors that may increase your risk!
- Chronic Muscle Overuse (repetitive muscle stress, strain and injury)
- Poor Posture
- Lack of Exercise
- Injury to Vertebral Discs
- Chronic Medical Conditions
- Stress and Anxiety
Where Do These Knots Come From?
Chronic stress, strain and injury to the myofascial tissue (the muscle fibers and the fibrous connective tissue – that cover the muscle) can form taut, bulb-like pockets. These appear as contracted myofascial knots, which cause the muscle to shorten and tighten. As a physician, I can often find the areas where there are knots just by pressing on them.
But…NOT all Knots are the SAME!
What Kind of Knot Do You Have?
- An acutely inflamed knot feels sore when pressed.
- A chronically inflamed knot will begin to calcify, and is often described as a “rock” or “pebble.”
- A trigger point knot leads to localized shooting pain when pressed. In other words, a knot in one muscle can create pain in another area. This is an important distinction, as trigger points can result in severe muscle spasm, limit your movement, and decrease strength.
What are the Symptoms?
Trigger point pain is often misleading and misdiagnosed as something more serious.
The trigger point can cause severe unpleasant and even debilitating pain with a referral pain pattern described as a shooting pain, tingling sensation, or numbness to adjacent areas. The referral pain mimics the symptoms of other common conditions such as a pinched spinal nerve; “sciatica” or peripheral neuropathy (peripheral nerve problem).
Here is a good example.
Acute strain or stress to trigger point(s) of the muscles of the shoulder, neck and face are a well known source of headaches and migraine symptoms. One common trigger point in this area is located at the top of your shoulder, in the trapezius and rhomboid muscles, which can refer pain to the neck and head. Trigger points can also occur in the low back and in extremities.
To complicate matters, the trigger point might develop secondary to an underlying joint, spinal disc or peripheral nerve problem. Even if the primary problem is treated, you may continue to suffer with pain, if the trigger point was not identified as an contributing problem.
This may lead to unintended consequences like prolong pain and chronic use of pain medications, with an increased risk of medication related side effects. The best-case scenario is to determine whether the trigger point is the primary or secondary cause of your pain problem with a trigger point injection.
If you have struggled with chronic, unexplained aches and pains that seemingly have no cause, read on because there’s good news…
There is something you can do to help relieve your pain.
Doctors like me who specialize in Pain Management and Physiatry, can “release” these knots by injecting different kinds of fluids into them, and can immediately relieve the pain and muscle tightness created by the trigger point. This simple procedure is called a “trigger point injection”.
What Exactly are Trigger Point Injections?
A trigger point injection is a routine office procedure involving an injection (usually a local anesthetic or normal saline) at the the trigger point (myofascial knot) site. The local anesthetic will numb the area, provided symptomatic pain relief, and decrease the muscle spasm.
As part of our Integrative Medicine approach, we also use Homeopathic injectables like Traumeel and Zeel for additional anti-inflammatory and healing benefits.
Top 5 Benefits of Trigger Point Injection Therapy
1. Improved Headaches
2. Immediate Pain Relief
3. Improved Range of Motion
4. Improved Flexibility
5. Improved Posture
Are Trigger Point Injections Right for You?
- If you have pain, reduced range of motion, or any physical issue that’s preventing you from sleeping at night, exercising, or reaching your optimal performance, a trigger point injection might be for you.
- It is used to both diagnose and treat the source of the issue.
- As a diagnostic tool, it helps us know if muscle spasm, muscle cramp or muscle aches are in fact the root of your problem.
- As a therapeutic tool, trigger point injections provide pain relief, help you move more easily with increased range of motion, and improves your tolerance of physical activity and exercise.
Other Treatment Options
In addition Trigger Point Injections, physical therapy, massage, manipulative therapy (osteopathy and chiropractic), and acupuncture are also good ways to treat trigger points, especially in the early stages of trigger point formation. However, for chronic trigger points, trigger point injection is the most effective treatment.
Advanced Trigger Point Intervention
Depending on the location of the trigger point, the injection can often be done by palpating it directly during a physical exam. At Blum Center, we also perform Musculoskeletal Ultrasound-Guided trigger point injection for hard to treat areas, especially calcified trigger points. Trigger point injections have been shown to provide significant pain relief and improvement of functional mobility.
Live in our neighborhood? Want to know if you are a good candidate for trigger point injections? Make a Trigger Point Evaluation appointment with me! Call Blum Center for Health at 914-652-7800 to get on my schedule and relieve your pain.
Meet Dr. Aligene: Dr. Kathy Aligene is Double-Board Certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (Physiatry) and Interventional Anesthesiology Pain Management. She completed her medical residency and ACGME-accredited Fellowship training at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she served as Chief Resident. Her expertise in these complementing areas of medicine has led her to successfully treat patients with musculoskeletal, joint, spine, pelvic and nerve related problems without depending on chronic use of pain medication.
She is recognized as a local and national leader in her field, an innovative physician in the field of Integrative Pain and Regenerative Medicine. She recently recognized as New York 2018 and 2019 SuperDoctors.