A trigger point is an area of muscle that is stuck in spasm, often causing radiating pain that reaches much farther than just the local area affected. Often, what patients think is sciatica or carpal tunnel may just be a trigger point in nearby muscles.
Most trigger points can be addressed with dry needling (see Dry Needling under Treatments); however, particularly stubborn ones may require lidocaine injections. Using a numbing agent like lidocaine can help break the spasm cycle to relieve the trigger point, while the needle-stick itself will induce a micro-injury that the body will begin healing. This healing process will often take care of the trigger point.
While a trigger point injection can be less comfortable than dry needling, the process is generally well-tolerated. In more sensitive areas, cold spray is used to first numb the skin before the injection is performed. Often patients will feel a temporary twinge of pain that mimics the symptoms they have been having. This is a good indicator that the correct muscle is being injected and that the treatment will have a high probability of relieving that pain.