Tell your neighbor over the fence or the woman at the grocery store about your back pain and there’s a good chance you’ll be regaled with the story of their own experience (or their mother or brother’s,) and about how a spinal injection worked wonders for them.
Though their anecdote may be true, that doesn’t mean that getting a nerve block or steroid injection is the right answer for you. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t the right answer either. But no two patients are the same, and different back conditions warrant different treatments.
That’s why anybody who’s been suffering from cervical or lumbar spine discomfort for more than a few weeks should make an appointment with our spine specialty practice in New Jersey to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan tailor-made for their particular situation.
Still, it is easy to understand how tempting it is to consider a quick injection — no matter how scary a needle in the spine may sound — that will magically erase your pain. Let’s talk about the pluses, minuses and factors that need to be considered regarding these interventional pain management tools.
The first thing you need to know is how these injections are administered. Patients are typically provided with either the steroid cortisone or local anesthetics to the area from which their symptoms are emanating, and the needle’s path is guided with a special imaging technique called live fluoroscopy in order to ensure that the medication is delivered to the correct area.
The things that can help determine whether this is the right procedure for you include:
- The type of pain that you’re experiencing. If it is diffuse, then a local injection is not likely to get rid of your discomfort. Injections are usually most appropriate to treat inflammation or irritation at the site of a specific injury like a herniated or bulging disc that causes pain in a specific area rather than all over.
- Have reasonable expectations. Though injections can provide relief, they do nothing to cure your problem. There is a very good chance that your symptoms are going to return unless you undertake other actions to prevent a recurrence.
- Know your own risk factors. Patients who are taking blood thinning medications or who suffer from diabetes can experience serious adverse effects from these invasive procedures, so your physician should be consulted prior to any procedures being undertaken by a specialist.
- Consider whether you have tried alternative treatments that are less invasive prior to looking for a more invasive approach. Many patients are able to find significant relief through the use of physical therapy, exercise, massage or manipulation, and taking over-the=counter medications.
The first step to finding the right treatment approach is to make sure you understand exactly what is causing your pain. Start by making an appointment with our lumbar spine specialty practice in New Jersey so we can work up a diagnosis and plan of action that is specifically designed for you.