Spinal injections are used to diagnose and treat pain. For a spinal injection, your spine and pain management physician will use X-ray guidance, known as fluoroscopy, to carefully administer medication directly into the affected area of the spine or nerve causing pain. If a spinal injection is used for diagnostic purposes, your spine and pain management physician will be able to determine if the area of the injection is responsible for your pain, thus diagnosing the location. Other times, spinal injections are used to alleviate pain.
Typically, spinal injections may be recommended only after medications and physical therapy fail to alleviate pain. At Neurosurgery One, our spine and pain management physicians take an evidence-based approach, utilizing the latest research to make the best recommendations for your neck, back, or leg pain. We carefully explain all of your pain management options to ensure you’re able to make the best decision for your pain goals.
Spinal injections may include facet joint injections, epidural steroid injections, intra-articular join injections, and Sacroiliac joint (SI joint) injections. If medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes are not providing the pain relief you desire, you may want to discuss spinal injections with your physician.
FAQs about Spinal Injections
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Conditions We Treat
What are types of spinal injections?
There are a variety of types of spinal injections, each providing benefits based on diagnosing or treating your pain.
- Facet Joint Injections: Targeting the small joints located between the vertebra in the back, known as facet joints, these injections are used for pain that originates anywhere along the spine, from the neck to the lower back. Often an anesthetic is administered to the area first, and if it provides pain relief, a steroid may be injected.
- Sacroiliac joint (SI joint) Injections: These injections pinpoint pain that originates in the SI joints, which are located between the pelvic and sacrum bones. Administering an anesthetic has been highly effective in diagnosing SI pain, and then a steroid is injected for longer-term pain relief.
- Intra-articular joint Injections: Used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, intra-articular joint injections target joint pain in the knee, hip, and shoulder areas (but can be administered anywhere there is joint pain). Anesthetic, steroid, and Botox medications are all used for this type of spinal injection.
- Epidural steroid injections: This type of pain relief utilizes the epidural space that encompasses the spine and nerve roots. First, a local anesthetic is administered to numb the area. Then a steroid is injected into the epidural space.
How does a spinal injection work?
Your spine and pain management physician can use spinal injections for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Using X-ray guidance, known as fluoroscopy, your physician will inject the specific area of your spine with a dye to first ensure proper positioning. Then an anesthetic is administered when trying to diagnose the pain. If the anesthetic is effective, then your spine and pain management physician may inject a steroid or another medication to provide longer-term pain relief. The entire procedure only takes a few minutes.
Am I a candidate for spinal injections?
Your spine and pain management physician will carefully evaluate your symptoms and make recommendations accordingly. Spinal injections are almost never used alone but rather in combination with physical therapy, rehabilitation, lifestyle changes, and/or medication.
When pain cannot be management effectively with conservative treatments, spinal injections may be recommended for patients experiencing:
How long does a spinal injection last?
The benefits of spinal injects vary by patient and condition. Many people experience pain relief within a few hours or days of the injection. It could take several days before you experience the full benefits of the spinal injection.
In some cases, a spinal injection may provide long-lasting pain relief. Based on your condition and reaction to the spinal injection, your spine and pain management physician may schedule a follow up injection to ensure continued relief.
What are the benefits and side effects of spinal injections?
Benefits and side effects of spinal injections can vary based on the patient and your condition. In general, below are some benefits and potential side effects of spinal injections.
Benefits of spinal injections:
- Pain relief, which can range from temporary to long lasting
- Reduction in inflammation
- Increased range of motion, which can allow for physical therapy
- Reduction in medication use
- Identification of the specific origin of pain
- Prolong or eliminate the need for surgery
Side effects of spinal injections:
- May only provide temporary or minimal pain relief
- Although rare, infection or injury may occur
- Temporary paralysis to the bladder or bowel nerves
- Bleeding and reactions to medications
- Exposure to radiation through imaging
- Potential side effects of steroids like nausea, diarrhea, changes to menstrual cycles and flushed face
How much do spinal injections cost?
Most insurance companies and Medicare cover spinal injections if they are recommended to diagnose or treat a condition. The average cost of spinal injections is around $600, with costs ranging from $100-more than $1,000 per injection.