Finding relief: everything you need to know about pain injections
If you experience chronic pain, you might find it difficult to complete daily tasks or participate in the activities you enjoy. However, you have many options for pain relief. Whether your discomfort stems from an injury, joint pain, a chronic condition, surgery, or other causes, your provider can use different types of injections for reducing painful conditions.
Types of pain injections
Several types of spinal injections are available to target various pain generators, effectively reducing muscle, joint, back, and neck pain. A pain management doctor can discuss your options with you and help you choose the type of pain injection that's right for you.
Pain relieving injection options include:
Cervical and lumbar interlaminar epidural steroid injections. During an interlaminar epidural steroid injection, steroids are injected into the space between the spinal cord and spine. This can relieve nerve root and herniated disk pain caused by irritation and inflammation.
The injection procedure takes between 20 and 30 minutes, and patients begin to feel the effects of the steroids between two days and two weeks later. Pain relief varies from person to person, but some patients can experience pain relief for months thanks to the steroid injections.
Lumbar transforaminal epidural steroid injections. Like interlaminar epidural steroid injection, transforaminal epidural steroid injections use steroids and numbing medications that are injected between the spinal cord and spine. This helps relieve irritation and inflammation of herniated disks and nerve roots.
The procedure usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, and the steroids begin to take effect between two days and two weeks later. Some patients report pain relief that lasts for months.
Facet medial branch nerve block. This diagnostic test injection helps doctors identify if pain is related to the facet joints in the lumbar, thoracic, or cervical spine. During this 15- to 20-minute procedure, numbing medication is injected near the medial branch nerves. The numbing medication typically produces immediate relief. Patients who experience significant relief can be candidates for a radiofrequency ablation, which can lead to long-term relief.
Sacroiliac (SI) joint injections. SI joints are located between the pelvic bones. When one of these joints become inflamed, it can cause pain in the lower back, buttock, and leg on that side of the body. If your provider suspects pain is being caused by your SI joint, you may receive an injection with only an anesthetic, steroid, or both into the joint.
Trigger point injection (TPI). This type of injection can treat painful knots of muscles that form when muscles don't relax. The clinician injects an anesthetic, and sometimes another anti-inflammatory, directly into the trigger point. TPI can treat muscles in the arms, legs, lower back, and neck, and it can relieve pain associated with fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and myofascial pain syndrome.
Complications and side effects
Complications from pain injections are generally rare and mild. If they occur, they can include bleeding, infection, injury to nerves, spinal cord injury, muscle weakness, and increased pain. Steroid injections can cause side effects, such as facial flushing, increase in appetite, nausea, and diarrhea. If any of these occur, talk to your provider.
Have questions about your pain-relieving options? Find a provider at Reid Health.