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What to Expect From a Spinal Injection for Your Back Pain

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A spinal injection—sometimes called epidural steroid injection (ESI), nerve block, or joint block— can offer pain relief or increase mobility by helping reduce inflammation affecting the spinal canal, spinal nerve roots, or joints.

Why Do I Need a Spinal Injection?


In the most basic terms, your spine is made up of vertebrae, discs, nerve roots, and a spinal cord that runs from the brain to the lumbar, or lower back. Your cord is protected by your vertebrae and is contained within a fluid sac called the epidural space. Certain complications can cause nerves attached to the spine to become inflamed and aggravated, which is known as radiculopathy.

Radiculopathy can occur as a result of:

  • Herniated or bulging discs
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal stenosis, or the narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Spondylosis, or wear and tear of the spine

Nerve inflammation can cause moderate to severe nerve pain, arm or leg weakness, and even arm or leg numbness, depending on where the inflammation is occurring and what is causing it.

Radiculopathy can affect any area of the spine, including the:

  • Lower back (lumbar)
  • Mid back (thoracic)
  • Neck (cervical)
  • Tailbone (caudal)

Facet and Sacroiliac Joint Issues

Your facet joints are those between each vertebra of the spine, while your sacroiliac joints connect your pelvic bones to the sacrum, or the base of the spine. You could experience joint issues for several reasons, the most common one being osteoarthritis. Sudden injury to the spine or hips can also cause joint pain in these areas.

Signs of facet or sacroiliac joint pain include:

  • Dull aching in the back on either side of the spine
  • Pain in the buttocks or groin
  • Pain that radiates out or shoots down either leg
  • Posture issues as you try to find a comfortable position
  • Bodily stiffness

If you are experiencing radiculopathy or spine-related joint pain for any reason, you have several treatment options to help relieve the pain, including spinal injections.

What Is a Spinal Injection?

Epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks, and root blocks all work to administer medicines to the source of the issue to help reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Epidural steroid injections consist of an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid that targets and reduces inflammation at the injection site.
  • Nerve blocks combine a steroid with an anesthetic and are administered where the troublesome nerve exits the spinal cord.
  • Joint blocks also combine an anesthetic with a steroid, just like nerve blocks. The only difference is that these are administered to the bothersome joint rather than a nerve.

What to Expect During a Spinal Injection?

Whether you’re receiving an epidural steroid injection or a nerve or root block, the expectations of each injection are generally the same:

  1. You will be instructed before your appointment on what you should wear. Some doctors prefer patients change into a gown; others request that patients arrive in loose-fitting clothing that allows for easy access to the spine.
  2. If possible, you will lie either face up or face down on the table, depending on what injection you are receiving and where. If lying down is too painful, your doctor will instruct you on how to position yourself to ease any pain and allow access to the site.
  3. Your doctor will sterilize the injection site and may also apply a numbing agent to the site.
  4. Your doctor will inject a needle into the site and, using an X-ray tool for guidance, will move the needle to the correct internal location.
  5. Your doctor will administer the medicine to the area. You may feel some pressure during steps 4 and 5, but the process is typically not painful.
  6. After injection, you will be observed for 15-30 minutes before being released to go home.

What to Expect After a Spinal Injection?

For the first few hours after a spinal injection, you may feel some surface-level pain at the injection site as you would any other shot or injection. This should fade after a while. You will be told to rest and take things easy for the rest of the day, but you should be able to resume all normal activities the following day.

Results do not always show immediately after the injection. It can take a few days or even a couple of weeks for the steroid to kick in and for you to notice any pain relief.

A few weeks later, your doctor will follow up with you to ensure you are doing well and that the injection was effective following your procedure.

If you have pain in your back, neck, arms, buttocks, or legs, a spinal injection from the neurosurgeons at Georgia Neurosurgical Institute may be a viable, non-surgical solution for lasting relief.

Our renowned neurosurgeons want to help you avoid surgery for as long as possible while providing the pain relief you need to regain your quality of life. Back or leg pain can be debilitating, but a spinal injection may help you achieve relief. Learn more about your spinal injection options by scheduling an appointment with our team today: Call 478-743-7092

Georgia Neurosurgical Institute offers exceptional treatments for the brain and spine to patients throughout Middle Georgia:

  • Dublin
  • Forsyth
  • Locust Grove
  • Macon
  • McDonough
  • Milledgeville
  • Perry
  • Warner Robins

And surrounding areas!

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