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Trigger point injections at Calgary Centre for Health

What are trigger points?

Trigger points occur following an acute trauma or repetitive strain injuries causing the muscle fibres to be stuck in a contracted state. They may feel like painful “knots” in your muscles that can be very sensitive to touch and pressure. The pain may also refer to other areas in your body. Initial treatments include heat therapy, massage therapy, myofascial release, stretching, and exercise therapy.

What is a trigger point injection?

A trigger point injection is an injection technique used to help relieve myofascial pain and release the tight muscles. A medication – usually an anaesthetic – is injected in and around the affected muscles. It is particularly beneficial when used alongside exercise therapy and stretching exercises. Trigger point injections can allow exercise therapy to be better tolerated and more effective. Occasionally, a neuromodulating agent (i.e., Botox) may be used for longer-lasting relief.

Risks and complications

The risks and complications associated with trigger point injections include:

  • Pain, numbness, swelling, stiffness
  • Infection
  • Bruising and/or bleeding
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dizziness/fainting
  • Pneumothorax (if injecting near the lungs)
  • Injury to the muscle, and/or tendons
  • Spinal cord injury during spinal injections
  • Temporary or permanent nerve damage
  • Allergic reaction to the injectate
  • Worsening of symptoms
  • No improvement of symptoms


  • Ice may be applied immediately after the injection to prevent bruising.
  • You may actively use the affected muscle immediately after the injection, although strenuous activity should be avoided for the first few days.
  • Starting the following day, gentle stretching and heat may be applied to the treated area to optimize outcomes.


Many people experience immediate pain relief and an increase in range of motion after the trigger point injection procedure, although it may take a few days before you notice an improvement. The pain relief typically lasts for about a month. If you’re still experiencing pain after this time, your healthcare provider may recommend additional injections to achieve long-term relief.

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