Spinal injections are commonly used to localize and treat painful tissues in the cervical, thoracic and lumbosacral spine. Treatment with spinal injections and the type of injections differ among individual patients. The spinal specialists at Virginia Spine Institute rely on a thorough patient history combined with a physical exam and appropriate imaging studies and diagnostic tests in order to determine if an injection is warranted.
This varies for each patient. Symptom relief can last for days to months.
There is very minimal pain while receiving an injection. The local anesthetic in your injection acts to temporarily numb the area being injected.
Your doctor will perform a comprehensive physical examination and a detailed patient history to determine where your pain is coming from. X-rays and MRIs may then be obtained to better understand the structure of your spine and correlate them to your symptoms.
Injections are reserved for patients that have significant symptoms that impact function or quality of life. Or they are for patients that are struggling to respond to physical therapy or plateaued in their progress.
Local anesthetic like lidocaine is used to numb the skin and to help temporarily reduce your pain. Contrast dye is used to determine the flow of medication and confirm the needle tip placement.
Corticosteroid is used to reduce the inflammation. On average it takes 2-3 days before you see an effect of the steroid, but it can take up to a full week. If successful, this pain relief should last weeks to months.
There are also regenerative medicine options like PRP, Stem Cells, and Lipogems.
Some side effects are from the medicine simply taking up room near the irritated nerve. This is an increased pain or a pressure sensation which typically resolves over a day or two.
Your body may react to the steroid. Most often this is a headache, facial flushing, insomnia, elevation in blood pressure, or a jitteriness or anxiety feeling. In diabetics, blood sugar levels may temporarily increase, so increased blood glucose monitoring and possible insulin may be needed. Immune system will be temporarily suppressed making it harder to fight infection
Studies have shown that when paired with physical therapy, spinal injections are much more effective in both reducing your pain and improving function. Pain will often cause changes in your body’s biomechanics or muscle imbalances that if not addressed properly can lead to recurrence of symptoms. Our therapists at VTFC are experts in delivering comprehensive high quality care, working one-on-one with our patients to create an individualized therapy program that will reduce your pain, improve function, and improve your quality of life.
Dr. Niteesh Bharara
Orthopedic Specialist - Non-Surgical Sports Medicine
Director of Regenerative Medicine
Reviewed by: Dr. Colin Haines, MD, FACS.