Spinal injection

Injections comprise another nonsurgical treatment option for low back pain. They are typically considered as an option to treat low back pain after a course of medications and/or physical therapy 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 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, relief may be long term or temporary.

Diagnostically, injections can be used to help determine which structure in the back is generating pain. For example, if a spine specialist can inject a numbing agent into a particular region and the patient feels temporary relief, that helps pinpoint possible sources of the pain.

  • There are many types of spinal injections
  • Injections can be administered as a diagnostic aid, as a permanent treatment, or for ongoing pain relief
  • Generally, spine specialists recommend no more than three steroid injections per year for controlling pain (or fewer depending on effectiveness)
  • Epidural steroid injections should not be performed on patients whose pain is from a tumor or infection, and if suspected, an MRI scan should be done prior to the injection to rule out these conditions