Epidural Spinal, Nerve Root, and Facet Joint Injection
Spinal injections offer effective, temporary pain relief from a wide range of conditions, including disc herniation, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and more. They can also be used for diagnostic purposes to block pain signals and determine the cause of a patient’s pain. There are several different types of injections available, each crafted to treat different types of back pain.
It is important for patients to realize that spinal injections cannot cure their condition, but rather provide temporary relief from pain, inflammation and other symptoms. These treatments can be repeated if desired in order to prolong the results.
Spinal Injection Procedure
Regardless of its purpose, a spinal injection is delivered directly into the affected area along with a local anesthetic to relieve any discomfort from the actual injection. The anesthesia provides immediate pain relief, while the actual relief from the steroids takes about four to six hours to begin.
Many of these procedures are performed under imaging (X-ray, MRI or CT) guidance to ensure precise delivery of the injection. By injecting medication directly into the affected area, patients can benefit from almost immediate pain relief, as the medication does not have to travel through the body first.
After a spinal injection, patients may experience an initial increase in pain from the actual injection, but this usually subsides within three days. Tenderness and swelling may also occur at the injection site, but this is usually mild.
Epidural Steroid Injections
Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) have been used for decades to temporarily relieve lower back and leg pain (sciatica) in patients with lumbar disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, lumbar spinal stenosis and more. They are also effective for pain in the neck (cervical spine) and mid-back (thoracic spine) as well.
Comprised of cortisone and a local anesthetic or saline solution, ESIs work by reducing inflammation and flushing out particles that cause swelling and pain. Relieve from a single injection usually lasts from one week up to a year, depending on each patient’s individual condition.
A facet injection is a minimally invasive treatment option for back pain caused by inflamed facet joints, which may develop from spinal stenosis, sciatica or arthritis, and is characterized by neck, arm, low back or leg pain. Each vertebra has four facet joints that connect it to the vertebra above and below. The injection may also be used for diagnostic purposes.
Facet injections are composed of a combination of long-lasting steroid and a local anesthetic that are injected either into the joint capsule or its surrounding tissue. The steroid reduces inflammation and can relieve pain for a few days to a few years. This treatment can be repeated up to three times a year for those patients who experience successful but short-term pain relief.
A nerve block is a treatment that can be used to both treat and diagnose severe pain. It is placed by injecting a substance such as alcohol or phenol into or around the nerve to numb it and interrupt the pain signals sent to the brain. Therapeutic nerve block can treat pain for six to 12 months, and may be repeated as needed. Diagnostic nerve blocks insert an anesthetic for a certain amount of time to determine the source of chronic pain.