When to Consider Trigger Point Injections for Your Headaches

When to Consider Trigger Point Injections for Your Headaches

With more than 150 different types of headaches, narrowing down exactly what’s causing your head pain may seem daunting. So, when headache pain stumps you, you need an expert who studies, diagnoses, and treats debilitating head pain for a living.

Dr. Stanley Mathew, MD, at American Rehabilitation Medicine, with offices in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Anamosa, Iowa, specializes in finding the root cause of all types of pain and relieving it using the multidisciplinary approach of physiatry. When it comes to headaches, Dr. Mathew gets to the underlying causes so he can resolve the problem and prevent future attacks.

In many cases, trigger point injections stop headache pain in its tracks, but it’s not effective for every type of headache. Here’s an overview of headache types and a closer look at when to consider trigger point injections.

What type of headache do you have?

To get a handle on the more than 150 types of headaches, it helps to separate them into two main categories: primary and secondary.

Primary headaches are those that constitute a medical condition in and of themselves. That is, they don’t stem from some other health problem. Primary headaches include:

Secondary headaches are symptoms of another condition. These headaches may crop up as a result of injury, infection, hypertension, sinus congestion, or medication overuse. 

Trigger points and headaches

Some headaches, both primary and secondary, stem from a tightened band of muscle called a trigger point. Sometimes termed muscle knots, trigger points are not only painful to the touch, but they can also radiate pain to other body parts, including your head. 

You may develop trigger points after a traumatic event, an acute injury, an infection, or inflammation, but they’re also classic symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome, a condition that attacks the connective tissue — fascia — causing muscle spasms and localized pain. Myofascial trigger points can also cause referred head pain.

Fortunately, there’s a way to release the tightened trigger points and, therefore, relieve your headache pain.

How trigger point injections work

Dr. Mathew is highly skilled at trigger point injections and uses three approaches depending on your needs.

1. Steroids

Some trigger point injections contain a corticosteroid medication that reduces inflammation in your muscle tissues. It also contains a numbing agent called lidocaine that delivers immediate pain relief while the steroid kicks in and eliminates tissue swelling. 

2. Botox®

To stop the nerve cells in your muscles from sending pain signals to your brain, Dr. Mathew may recommend Botox trigger point injections. Botox contains a purified form of botulinum toxin type A, which is derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. When expertly administered, Botox temporarily paralyzes the muscle affected by the trigger point and interferes with the pain signals it’s sending.

3. Dry needling

Dr. Mathew also relieves trigger points without medication by using extremely thin needles alone. In this case, the needle itself is the mechanism for relief as it carefully separates and relaxes your muscle fibers and allows them to elongate. 

Regardless of the type of trigger point injection you receive, you may need a series of injections to experience complete relief.

When to consider trigger point injections for your headaches

Trigger point injections are effective, but they don’t address all types of headaches. After Dr. Mathew examines you thoroughly and determines the underlying cause of your headaches, he lets you know whether you’re a good candidate for trigger point injection therapy. 

As part of his exam, Dr. Mathew checks for trigger points in your shoulders, neck, and head that may be responsible for your headaches. Often, a trigger point will jump or twitch when touched. If the trigger point is causing referred pain to your head, you may benefit from trigger point therapy.

If you suffer from chronic migraine headaches, muscle knots may be one of your triggers. If so, you may be a good candidate for trigger point therapy.

To find out if your headaches are the type that respond well to trigger point injections, schedule a consultation at any of our three Iowa locations with Dr. Mathew by calling our friendly staff or booking online. The solution may be an injection or two away. 

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