Acupoint, Motor Point and Trigger Point Injections

Some Definitions

Acupoints: Short for acupuncture points, these include the standard acupuncture points all over the body as well as any additional tender points. These have been gradually discovered and used for thousands of years and often overlap the more recent motor & trigger points.

Motor Points: These refer to the location where nerves enter a muscle, tension in the muscle or fascia can entrap the nerve leading to pain and dysfunction in the area.

Trigger Points: These are simply the painful areas (usually created by nodules or tightness) in muscles and fascia; they're often caused by injury or muscle strain. These are known traditionally in acupuncture as Ashi points and have been used for around 1500 years before western medicine looked at them.

There's a lot of overlap between these three types of points and during a treatment we might use any combination, or even all of them.

Questions About Point Injections

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Why do trigger points cause pain?
See those little red lumps there? Those contracted knots are clusters of muscle fibres that have bunched up and affect not just the normal function of the muscle but also nerves and blood circulation. Muscles are supposed to contract and relax as we move, but these knots contract and stretch the neighbouring muscle fibres which affect our movement and cause pain. Pain can be felt right at the knot or further away and can even lead to other conditions - for example, trigger points in the upper trapezius can lead to tension headaches, migraines and even grinding or clenched teeth.

Trigger points form as a result of injury, overuse as well as poor posture or ergonomics.

What is injected into the muscles?
We use a mixture of buffered 5% Dextrose with vitamin B12 and a 1% Procaine solution. Dextrose was discovered to have analgaesic properties in the 1950's but research was largely set aside as new medications were synthesised and those pesky wars came to an end which reduced the demand for affordable pain treatments.
Procaine is our local analgaesic of choice because it breaks down in the local tissues, as opposed to the liver, and generally carries less risk of adverse effects. It helps reduce some of the discomfort during the treatment as well as any soreness afterwards.
There are a few different forms of B12, one is better for issues with muscles while another is better for the nerves; we choose which is appropriate for the treatment.
All of the solutions we use are sterile and preservative free.

How does it work?
By injecting right into the trigger points we're accomplishing what other needling therapies like acupuncture and IMS do with a fraction of the treatment and associated discomfort. We want to do more with less. Our goal it to release these muscle contractions so the muscle can relax to its normal resting length so the pain goes away and movement becomes easier.

Will it hurt?
The needles used to inject are of course larger than traditional acupuncture needles. Most people let us know that trigger point injections have a stronger sensation than acupuncture but less than IMS. Muscles twitches are a sign of the muscle releasing; our goal is not to force release but rather to get the treatment into the correct locations. Often we can use some local numbing prior to treatment but the solution we're injecting has the effect of numbing pain.
We will do everything possible to make your treatment comfortable.

What are the risks?
Deeper point injections carry the same risks that accompanies any deep acupuncture or needling treatment.
From mild to serious, potential risks include:

  • Light-headedness or nausea
  • Bruising and mild bleeding
  • Soreness or stiffness in the area
  • Increasing redness and pain at injection sites (sign of infection, very rare)
  • Sudden shortness of breath, strong chest pain and trouble breathing (sign of pneumothorax, very rare)

How much does it cost?
The cost of all of our acupoint injections vary depending on the amount of treatment needed - larger muscles and areas need more time and supplies. But treatment costs start at around $100 which is still around the average cost of a standard, one on one acupuncture treatment at any clinic.
Our services are covered under most extended health insurance plans.

Other treatment options you might want to consider

  • Acupuncture: It's been effective treatment for thousands of years and is usually so gentle that most people barely feel anything more than a tiny pinch. We still charge only between $20-40 per treatment for this.
  • Perineural: If pain is caused by nerve entrapments which are related more to tension in the fascia then maybe a more superficial treatment would be a better choice.
  • Others: Maybe your condition might respond better to a different form of treatment like massage, physiotherapy or structural integration. Our priority is your effective treatment (not having a full schedule) and we happily refer out when it's warranted.

Pre & Post Care

Before you come for treatment:

  • It is strongly recommended to eat some food within a couple hours before getting acupuncture or point injection therapy, as getting any needle therapy on an empty stomach has a greater risk of adverse effects from treatment.
  • It is also recommended that you wear dark clothing; between our sanitising solution and any leaks that occur during treatment there's a significant risk for staining.
  • Loose fitting clothes such as sports tops and loose shorts are preferred.
  • If you have long hair, please bring something with you to keep it in place.
After your treatment:

  • You will probably feel a bit stiff afterwards but this will subside over a day or so
  • Depending on the muscles being treated, there will be some recommendation to rest and avoid strenuous exercise to allow the settling of muscles and avoid aggravating things.
  • If trigger points are forming because of poor posture then regular, healthy activity (including stretching) after the period of rest is recommended to prevent the pain returning.