One of the main problems in the treatment
of lower back or neck pain is in establishing which
part of the spine is mostly responsible for the pain.
This is largely due to the complexity of the back or
neck as a whole. Injections can be used not only in
an attempt to improve the pain but also when further
information regarding the cause of a patient’s back
condition would be useful. The injections are generally
performed in a recognized Xray facility using (usually)
the CT scanner to guide the insertion of the needle.
The risks of the procedures are few. In theory an infection
could occur at the point of needle insertion however
this is a very rare event. The risk of nerve damage
is very small, being far less than 1%. The injections
are done as “day procedures” and the patients may be
driven home at the conclusion of the procedure. They
are advised not to drive for the rest of the day. Click
on a link above to learn details on the various types
of Radiology-guided spinal injections.
Injections comprise a less invasive,
relatively conservative treatment option for back pain.
They are typically considered as an option to treat
back pain after a course of medications and/or physiotherapy
is completed, but before surgery is considered. Injections
can be useful both for providing pain relief and as
a diagnostic tool to help identify the source of the
patients back pain.
For pain relief, injections can be more effective than
an oral medication because they deliver medication directly
to the anatomic location that is generating the pain.
Typically, a steroid medication is injected to deliver
a powerful anti-inflammatory solution directly to the
area that is the source of pain. Depending on the type
of injection, some forms of low back pain relief may
be long lasting and some may be only temporary.
Diagnostically, injections can be used to help determine
which structure in the back is generating pain. If lidocaine
or similar numbing medication is used, and the patient
feels temporary relief after an anatomic region is injected
(e.g. facet joint or sacroiliac joint), it can then
be inferred that the specific region is the source of
the pain. When considered in conjunction with a patients
history, physical exam, and imaging studies, injections
used for diagnostic purposes can be very helpful in
guiding further treatment for the patient.
here to view a Patient Information Flyer on spinal injections
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