Between 10% and 40% of people in the United States experience sciatica at some point in their lives, and it’s an experience they won’t soon forget or want to repeat. If you’re struggling to move freely because of shooting pain in your lower back that travels down one side of your lower extremities, trigger point injections may help you find relief.
At the American Rehabilitation Center, triple-board-certified physiatrist Dr. Stanley Mathew has considerable experience helping our patients find relief from the many conditions that can lead to lower back pain, including sciatica. One of the true workhorses when it comes to back pain relief is trigger point injections, and we explore how they can help you find relief from sciatica.
Before we get into how trigger point injections work, it’s important to first understand what we’re up against when it comes to sciatica.
In reality, sciatica is more of a symptom than a condition. Your sciatic nerve is created by five different nerve roots found in your lumbar and sacral spine regions. These nerve roots come together to form your sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in your body.
From your lower back, this large nerve separates into two branches, and each branch travels down one side on your buttocks, into your leg, and down to your foot.
When sciatica develops, there’s nerve compression in your lower back, which typically stems from:
- A herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
- Muscle spasms
As a result of the nerve compression, you can experience pain in your lower back, as well as symptoms that radiate down one side of your lower extremities. In addition to the pain, you may also develop numbness and tingling in one buttock that may travel down into one leg.
Treating sciatica with trigger point injections
No matter where your pain first develops (in this case, nerve compression), it can have a cascading effect on the surrounding tissues, causing them to spasm, inflame, and/or tighten. This includes the fascia, which are thin membranes that surround your muscles and organs.
With trigger point injections, which we also call myofascial release therapy, we inject an anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory agent into the source of your sciatica-related myofascial pain — your trigger points. These points are hard knots that pull on your fascia, causing widespread discomfort.
Are trigger point injections effective for sciatica?
To get to the title of this blog about whether trigger point injections are helpful in treating sciatica, we can report from experience that they are.
Backing up our findings, we want to turn to a recent study of 65 patients with lumbar disc herniation.
This group was divided into two, and the first group was prescribed trigger point therapy in their gluteal regions, at-home exercise, and oral medications. The second group was prescribed only at-home exercise and oral medications. The study reports that both groups experienced pain reduction, but the reduction was more significant in the group that received trigger point injections.
This study underscores the efficacy of trigger point injections in treating sciatica, as well as the importance of other therapies, such as exercise and stretching.
To figure out which treatment plan is best for your sciatica, we invite you to come see us at one of our offices in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, or Anamosa, Iowa. Simply call us, or book an appointment online today.