I have had countless clients with neck and back injuries who have undergone injections to try and control their pain. Injections are very common these days and several of my clients find some relief from these; however, they do affect different people differently.
Below is a list of the types of injections your doctor may recommend, depending on your particular situation. Each injection is different and is used for different reasons. If you are not sure what kind of injection your doctor is recommending, be sure to ask him or her to clarify for you so you can know what to expect and you can discuss any concerns you may have.
Epidural – Epidural means “around the spinal cord.” Typically, epidural injections are performed in a doctor’s office or the hospital. They’re usually given by anesthesiologists, physiatrists, or interventional radiologists with special training. The epidural injection is usually not painful because of the numbing medicine used at the start. Many people do have mild tenderness for up to a few days after the injection.
Nerve block – In a nerve block, a doctor injects the area around the nerve with a numbing medicine, or anesthetic. Lidocaine is the most common anesthetic used. After a nerve block injection, a person will usually rapidly experience numbness with near-complete pain relief. The numbness wears off, though, after several hours.
Facet joint injection – This injection involves injecting a small amount of local anesthetic (numbing agent) and/or steroid medication, which can anesthetize the facet joints and block the pain. The pain relief from a facet joint injection is intended to help a patient better tolerate a physical therapy routine to rehabilitate his or her injury or back condition.
Discography – In some people, pain is caused by a damaged disc between spinal bones, or vertebrae. In a discography, a doctor injects contrast dye into a spinal disc. The doctor then observes the disc on an X-ray video screen. If contrast dye leaks out of the disc, and the person’s usual back pain occurs, the test is considered positive. Clinical studies, however, have not shown that discography is always a helpful test.
Risks of Injections
Mild soreness or pain at the site after an injection is common. Headache, nausea, and vomiting can also occur. In rare cases, injections can cause significant bleeding or infection. You should discuss these and any other possible risks with the doctor before having an injection.
If you have a serious neck or back injury as the result of a work place accident or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia,” or call our office today (804) 755-7755.
Michele Lewane, Esq.