When back pain won’t go away, your doctor will consider all the treatments that could help you, from exercise and physical therapy to medication. Part of that may include steroid injections to ease your back pain and inflammation. Steroid injections help some people, but not everyone gets the same relief.
What They Treat
Back injections may help treat two major back pain problems:
- Inflammation or damage to a nerve, usually in the neck or the low back, also called “radiculopathy.” The problem originates where the nerve exits the spine. With radiculopathy, sharp pain shoots from the lower back down into one or both legs, or from the neck into the arm. A herniated disk can cause radiculopathy.
- Spinal stenosis, which means that the spine has narrowed. This can happen because a herniated disk is pressing on the spine, or because a bone spur is jutting into that space, or if a tumor presses on the spine. Spinal stenosis compresses the nerves inside. This usually causes pain in the buttock or leg. You may or may not also have back pain. The pain from spinal stenosis may get worse when you’re active, and ease up when you lean forward.
You can get injections in the area around the inflamed or damaged nerves. There are several kinds of injections, including:
- Nerve block
Nerve Block Injections:
A doctor injects the area around the nerve with a numbing medicine, or anesthetic. Lidocaine is the anesthetic most commonly used.
After a nerve block injection, you’ll quickly have numbness with near-complete pain relief. It wears off after several hours.
Some doctors use nerve block injections to try to diagnose what's causing the back pain. If your doctor does this, you'll be asked which injection causes the back pain to go away. That nerve may then be chosen for an epidural injection with both steroid and anesthetic medicine.
Epidural means "around the spinal cord." These shots include a steroid medicine, also called corticosteroid, and usually an anesthetic medicine, too. Their effects seem to only last a short time and offer modest pain relief. So these might not be something you’d get for long-term back pain. And if your back pain started suddenly, there are other treatments your doctor would probably consider first.
For more information on injections for back pain relief, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Warwick, RI.