Spinal injections of anti-inflammatory steroidal compounds, such as cortisone, are used to provide temporary relief from chronic neck or back pain, or to diagnose the source of the pain. The goal of injections is typically to reduce swelling around a nerve, thereby easing irritation of that nerve. While releasing pressure on the nerve reduces pain, this step in the treatment process can also help pinpoint a particular nerve as the source of the pain. When an injection is used to reduce pain, it is referred to as therapeutic. When it is used to locate the source of pain, it is referred to as diagnostic.
Who is a candidate?
People who have attempted unsuccessfully to manage symptoms of spinal conditions using conservative methods of treatment might become candidates for a series of spinal injections. Symptoms associated with a compressed or irritated nerve or a degenerating spinal joint include localized pain, radiating pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness. Conditions that might produce these symptoms include:
- Arthritis of the spine
- Herniated disc
- Failed back surgery syndrome
- Spinal stenosis
Types of injection treatments
Areas subjected to steroidal injections for neck or back pain include the epidural space, which is the area in the spinal canal through which the spinal cord and nerve roots pass; facet joints, which are the small bones that connect vertebrae and allow them to move; and the sacroiliac, or SI joints, which are where the sacrum and the pelvis meet. Different categorizations of injections include:
- Facet joint injection
- Sacroiliac joint block injections
- Selective nerve root block (SNRB)
- Medial branch nerve blocks
- Trigger point injections
- Costovertebral block
- Hip joint injections
When injections are not enough
Therapeutic spinal injections usually are performed in a series, normally with no more than three during a 12-month period. This repetition is necessary because the anti-inflammatory effects of cortisone wear off over time. When injections are not enough to manage debilitating neck or back pain, contact Laser Spine Institute to determine whether you are a candidate for a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that can help you find relief from neck or back pain.