by Dr. Halland Chen, MD

Millions of people all over the world suffer from some type of back pain. In fact, back pain is one of the leading reasons that an individual may see a physician. When it comes to treating back pain there is a multitude of different treatment options. From conservative treatment such as physical therapy, all the way to surgery, the treatment spectrum is vast. However, in this article I will be discussing a specific type of treatment, injections for back pain. There are different types of back injections, and I will discuss them each in minor detail.

Epidural steroid injections – Inflammation in the spinal column can cause nerve root irritation. In this situation doctors may use a strong steroid anti-inflammatory back injection to reduce the pain and swelling. Pain relief typically will last from a couple weeks to a few months.

Nerve-root block – When there is a nerve root that is irritated, pain in the back and leg can occur. A nerve-root block is a steroid/numbing agent back injection that is injected in the area of the nerve where it exits the spinal column. Pain relief starts in a few days and lasts for a few months, typically.

Facet joint block injection– If your pain is suspected to be located in the facet joint, or where the vertebrae are connected to each other, then a facet joint block may be recommended. A facet joint block is an injection for back pain where a steroid or anesthetic directly into the joint capsule. Pain relief can last anywhere from several weeks to months.

Facet neurotomy – This procedure is injection for back pain for those who, through the suggestion of a facet joint block, have pain caused by a specific joint. In this procedure, a heated needle is used to burn the nerve that is causing the pain, rendering it useless. However, the nerve does usually grow back, but this will take several and there will be relief from the pain in the meantime.

Sacroiliac joint block – This type of injection is where an anesthetic or anti-inflammatory is injected into the sacroiliac joint, which is where the sacrum is connected to the pelvis. This is typically used from low back pain originating in the sacroiliac joint.

When it comes to injections for back pain, it is best to see your health care provider to determine if back injections are needed, and if they are, which type is best for you.

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