When you’re an athlete, you’re looking for any advantage to either prevent an injury or recover from one more quickly. There are many modalities athletes use, including chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy — trigger point therapy being one treatment that is often underrepresented but very advantageous.

Trigger point therapy is just one of the sports medicine services we offer at Chicagoland Complete Healthcare. Navigate trigger point therapy with us and learn more about how it can be used in your prevention and recovery regimen.

What Are Trigger Point Injections (TPI)

Trigger point therapy focuses on an area to excite the muscle and produce a muscle spasm while a TPI is introduced to the site. The primary sites trigger points are targeted include:

  • Trapezius and upper back muscles
  • Shoulders
  • Lower back
  • Arms
  • Legs

How Are Trigger Points Different From Acupuncture Points?

There is a huge differentiation between trigger point therapy and acupuncture. While acupuncture seeks to treat the body through channels and points that correspond to the health concern in question, trigger point therapy is more acute and targets a knot in muscles — a result of the muscle being unable to relax. When TPIs are administered, they inject a small amount of steroids or anesthetics to help alleviate the pain.  

Who Are Able To Administer TPIs?

Trained doctors are able to administer TPIs, in addition to more specialized doctors, such as sports medicine physicians, pain-management doctors, and rheumatologists. Always ensure the person administering the TPI is a trained medical professional.    

What Are The Liquids in a TPI?

A TPI is for pain management in the athlete who has a tender spot or muscle that is unable to relax, and they often consist of the following:

  • Lidocaine
  • Bupivacaine
  • Anesthetics
  • Corticosteroid

This is considered an injection because of the liquid substance involved, but if just a needle is inserted to the site, it is considered “dry needling,” which is also a popular choice in sports medicine.

What is the Process of a TPI?

The TPI will take place in a clinic, and the patient will be sitting relaxed on the exam table or lying face down depending on the area in question. The doctor will then palpate for a trigger point and mark it with an “X” on the body. The doctor will then clean the injection site with alcohol or betadine, and typically use a numbing spray to anesthetize the skin around the site and decrease the pain of the injection. The needle is then inserted, followed by the medication being released into the site.

If the area is sore afterward, it is recommended to use a combination of ice and heat, and to take an anti-inflammatory.

How Often is TPI Used?

TPIs are generally used as acute pain management and can be done once every one or two weeks to help the symptoms subside — if this is a chronic issue, your sports physician may switch gears and look for a better alternative for long-term maintenance.    

Trigger point therapy and TPIs are wonderful for athletes who need acute pain management care and can enhance performance by mitigating pain.

For more information on trigger point injections and how they may benefit you, schedule an appointment with us today.