There are many different types of back pain injections and they all can be very effective if you have the correct diagnosis. When you understand your diagnosis, and understand the different types of injections, you can better determine what type of injection might work best for you.
"participate in the decisions regarding your care"
Education is the key. When you learn about your diagnosis, and educate yourself about the different treatment options, you are better equipped to participate in the decisions regarding your care.
"used to treat a different situation"
Each of the most common back pain injections are used to treat a different situation. If you have an accurate diagnosis, and your injection is placed in the proper area, your chances of relief are very good.
The most common back pain injections would include :
Selective nerve root blocks may be used to determine exactly what is causing the pain.
Epidural steroid injections may be useful to treat a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or other conditions that can narrow the space for the nerves.
Prolotherapy injections are used to tighten loose ligaments and stabilize abnormal motion.
Sacroiliac joint injections are often used to treatsacroiliitis.
Trigger point injections are used to treat painful muscle conditions known as trigger points.
Selective Nerve Root Blocks
These back pain injections are commonly used when the exact location of what is causing your symptoms cannot be determined.
You may have sciatica and/or back pain, but when your MRI and other studies have not provided a clear diagnosis, these back pain injections can be used to determine exactly which nerve is causing the pain.
"may be either diagnostic, or diagnostic and therapeutic"
Selective nerve root blocks may be either diagnostic, or diagnostic and therapeutic. During a selective nerve root block, a syringe is used to place medication so that it affects exactly one nerve root.
Medications commonly used during these treatments are local anesthetics, such as lidocaine or marcaine. Some doctors may add a steroid based medication, such as dexamethasone or methylprednisolone.
"If steroids are also used..."
When a local anesthetic is used, and the pain is relieved, it can help to determine a precise diagnosis by revealing exactly where the problem lies. If steroids are also used, it can reduce swelling and inflammation, and may relieve pain and other symptoms.
Epidural Steroid Injections
These back pain injections may be used when a diagnosis has been determined with an MRI or other imaging studies.
These injections can be used to treat spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, or other cases where inflammation and swelling is thought to be causing a problem.
"to reduce swelling and inflammation"
Epidural steroid injections are similar to selective nerve root blocks except that with epidural steroid injections local anesthetics is not commonly used.
Steroids are placed around the nerves and spinal cord, or around the nerves and dural sac in the lumbar spine, to reduce swelling and inflammation.
"the results can be very variable"
When steroids are used to break the cycle of swelling and inflammation, the results can be very variable, and will depend on exactly what is causing the swelling and inflammation.
They can provide dramatic relief of symptoms such as pain and weakness, or it may not affect the symptoms at all. Most people will get relief that falls between those two extremes.
Proliferative therapy is a back pain injection that is used to strengthen weak ligaments and tendons. It is used to treat back pain, as well as pain in other areas of the body, such as the elbow or shoulder.
"When the ligaments and tendons are weak..."
Tendons connect muscles to bones allowing motion. Ligaments connect bones to bones to stabilize your joints and other connections between the bones.
When the ligaments and tendons are weak, everyday activities can cause them to stretch. This can cause pain because these tissues are full of nerve endings.
Loose ligaments can also cause pain because they allow abnormal motion at the joints and other connections between the bones.
"causes ligaments and tendons to grow thicker and stronger"
Ligaments and tendons are made up of fibrous connective tissue, with a very poor blood supply, this can cause them to be very slow to heal following a minor injury.
Prolotherapy uses an irritant solution, injected around a ligament or tendon, to generate a mild inflammatory response. This localized inflammation causes ligaments and tendons to grow thicker and stronger.
This can relieve pain by stabilizing joints and stopping abnormal motion. Chronic pain from old injuries that it never healed may also improve or resolve completely.
Sacroiliac Joint Injections
These back pain injections are often used to treat sacroiliitis which is a common cause of low back pain.
The sacroiliac joints are joints in the back of your pelvis that connect the bones of the pelvis to the sacrum. When these joints become inflamed due to arthritis or an injury they can cause pain that may radiate into the low back or into the buttocks.
"both a local anesthetic and a steroid medication together"
These joints may be injected with a local anesthetic to accurately diagnose what is causing the pain. Steroids may be used as a treatment to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Many doctors will use both a local anesthetic and a steroid medication together. If the local anesthetic provides at least temporary relief of the symptoms; you have evidence of an accurate diagnosis. Steroids will reduce swelling and inflammation relieving the pain.
"will depend on exactly what is causing the pain"
How long the relief lasts will depend on exactly what is causing the pain. Other treatments such as physical therapy or deep tissue massage may be used in conjunction with us sacroiliac joint injections.
Trigger Point Injections
This treatment is often used to treat myofascial trigger points. A trigger point is a pain within the muscle. Most commonly there is exquisite pain and tenderness that you can localize to just one small area. Often this will be just one part of a larger muscle.
"Relief is often complete..."
Trigger points may develop after a period excessively vigorous activity, such as working in the garden all weekend, but they can also develop during routine activities.
To treat trigger points most doctors will use a combination of steroids and local anesthetic that is injected into the painful area. Relief is often complete but recurrence of symptoms is common. Deep tissue massage is another common treatment for trigger points.
"you can be involved in the decisions regarding your care"
Back pain injections can be a very useful and effective treatment for certain types of back pain, but to be effective, the treatment must fit the diagnosis.
Before agreeing to any back pain treatments or procedure you need to learn about your diagnosis, and then weigh the risks and benefits, of the proposed treatment.
The more you learn about your diagnosis, and the better you understand what the treatment is supposed to do, the more you can be involved in the decisions regarding your care.