Spinal Injections for Back Pain

Another common site for chronic pain in our body is the back, especially lower back. People between ages 30 and 50 with sedentary life styles or with too little exercise suffer from lower back pain. Most low back pains can be treated without surgery. Treatment involves using over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce discomfort and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation. Spinal injections are also used to reduce pain and improve function. The effects of a successful spinal injection can last from a few weeks to several months.

Spinal injection involves injecting an anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory medication, such as a steroid (cortisone), near the affected nerve. This reduces the inflammation and lessens or resolves the pain. A spinal injection is performed by pain specialist such as physiatrist or anesthesiologist in our ASC. To help guide the needle into the correct place, the procedure is usually done under X-ray guidance. It is also called fluoroscopy. Some types of spinal injections are:

  • Epidural injections-- used to treat pain that starts in the spine and radiates to an arm or leg.
  • Facet joint injections-- often used if pain is caused by degenerative conditions or injury in small joints of the spine.
  • Sacroiliac joint injections—used to treat pain in the low back, buttock, and leg.
  • Spinal nerve root blocks—used as diagnostic tool or for surgical planning in patients with symptom related to spinal nerve root impingement.


Spinal injections for chronic back pain are generally safe; however there may be some temporary side effects like:

  • Loss of leg strength and muscle spasms
  • Increased pain
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Urinary retention
  • Increased blood sugar

Spinal injections may also cause some complications as headache, bleeding, infection or muscle weakness. But if complications occur, they are usually mild and self-limited.

Ask your doctor, if you have pain and if you are a candidate for viscosupplementation or spinal injections.



American academy of orthopedic surgeons