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Spinal Injection Therapy

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 patient’s 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 patient’s history, physical exam, and imaging studies, injections used for diagnostic purposes can be very helpful in guiding further treatment for the patient.

Click here to view a Patient Information Flyer on spinal injections

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