Injections comprise another nonsurgical treatment option for low back pain. They are typically considered as an option to treat low back pain after a course of medications and/or physical therapy is completed, but before surgery is considered. Injections can be useful both for providing pain relief and as a diagnostic tool to help identify the source of the patient’s back pain.
How Injections Relieve Back Pain
For pain relief, injections can be more effective than an oral medication because they deliver medication directly to the anatomic location that is generating the pain. Typically, a steroid medication is injected to deliver a powerful anti-inflammatory solution directly to the area that is the source of pain. Depending on the type of injection, some forms of low back pain relief may be long lasting and some may be only temporary.
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Injections to Diagnose Causes of Back Pain
Diagnostically, injections can be used to help determine which structure in the back is generating pain. If lidocaine or similar numbing medication is used, and the patient feels temporary relief after an anatomic region is injected (e.g. facet joint or sacroiliac joint), it can then be inferred that the specific region is the source of the pain. When considered in conjunction with a patient’s history, physical exam, and imaging studies, injections used for diagnostic purposes can be very helpful in guiding further treatment for the patient.
Different Kinds of Injections for Pain Relief
Common types of injections for back pain relief include:
- Selective nerve root block (SNRB)
- Facet joint block
- Facet rhizotomy
- Sacroiliac joint block