Chronic pain affects millions of Americans each year. Back pain is not only uncomfortable, but it can be debilitating and cause damage to other parts of the body. Living with back pain interferes with the quality of life on a regular basis and can be incredibly limiting.
Back pain can be acute or chronic, and many factors determine the kind of pain you experience. Because the back is such a complex structure, conditions vary from short-term wear-and-tear relief using over-the-counter medications to degenerative conditions treated by invasive surgeries.
Treating Chronic Back Pain
In many cases, chronic back pain is treated through the use of minimally invasive procedures and joint injections. Many physicians use fluoroscopic guidance to perform these types of treatments. This allows them to see the affected area on a display screen and precisely place the needle. Fluoroscopy guidance helps prevent surgery, since is allows minimally invasive techniques to be performed with the greatest accuracy.
Your individual symptoms, the source of pain, and need will determine the best treatment method. Many minimally invasive procedures and joint injections work to reduce pain.
Joint Injections and Treatment Options
Epidural Steroid Injections
This injection is used to reduce inflammation in the spinal column that causes pain and nerve irritation. An anti-inflammatory medication is injected into the epidural space in the spine. These injections are a good option for patients with spinal stenosis, herniated discs, and degenerative disc disease. Patients typically find their relief starts within a week of receiving the treatment and it lasts anywhere from a few days to a few months.
Facet Joint Injections
Facet joints are the small joints that allow your back to bend, twist, and move. When they become inflamed or injured, they can cause immense pain. This procedure injects a steroid and anesthetic medication into the joint. It can be very effective for patients who have suffered cartilage damage or back injuries from twisting. Pain relief may last weeks or months.
Trigger Point Injections
Trigger points are small muscle cramps within the body of a muscle that are extremely tender. Trigger points refer pain to other areas of the body. These injections administer a numbing agent to the trigger point, allowing it to relax and reduce pain. Trig point injections may be helpful if you experience back pain when pressure is applied in a specific area.
Sacroiliac Joint Block Injection
The SI joint connects the lower back of the spine to the pelvis. When the joints become inflamed and painful, movement can be affected and tasks such as sitting and walking. This injection consists of both an anti-inflammatory steroid and numbing agent. It is injected directly into the sacroiliac joint to relieve pain as effectively as possible.
Expected Results After Joint Injections
Joint injections are an outpatient procedure, and many times, they can be performed in your pain specialists’ office. Patients normally resume walking after the procedure, but need to have someone drive them home after receiving treatments. This is because doctors will administer a low-dose local anesthetic to numb the affected area before treatments.
Is is common for pain to continue a few days after the treatments, especially as the numbing agent wears off before the medication takes effect.
Pain relief generally starts two to seven days after the injection and can be reduced for several months. Your physician will often refer you to a physical therapist so you can exercise and strengthen your joints during this time of reduced or eliminated pain.
If injections prove to be helpful, the procedure can be repeated approximately 3 times a year. Other treatment options are available when joint injections do not reduce your pain. Keep track of your pain levels and communicate clearly with your doctor to create the best-suited treatment plan for your individual back pain.
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Are you tired of dealing with back pain that just never goes away? The truth is, chronic back pain can be debilitating and difficult to manage. While many different treatments are available to help control your symptoms, radiofrequency lesioning may provide an effective solution.
Radiofrequency lesioning uses high-frequency electrical signals to deliver targeted heat directly to the source of your pain to create a small ablation or “lesion,” which can reduce discomfort for long-term relief. Keep reading to learn more about how radiofrequency lesions work, what they treat, and whether they are right for you.
What is Radiofrequency Lesioning?
Radiofrequency lesioning (RFL) is an invasive procedure to reduce chronic neck or back pain. During a radiofrequency ablation procedure, a doctor uses fluoroscopy (a live x-ray) to guide an electrode needle into the nerve that carries the pain signals from your spine to your brain. The electrode sends radio frequency energy through the needle, creating a small “lesion” that interrupts these painful nerve signals for long-term relief.
Using RFL for Back Pain
Radiofrequency lesioning is commonly used to treat a variety of chronic pain conditions, but it can be especially effective for treating lower back pain. If you have been struggling with chronic back pain, radiofrequency lesioning may be an effective treatment option. The procedure has been shown to reduce the intensity of pain-related symptoms and provide relief from stiffness and movement limitations in the affected areas. Talk to your doctor about whether radiofrequency lesioning is the right choice for you.
Benefits of Radiofrequency Lesioning
- It can provide long-term relief from back pain
- It is minimally invasive and typically requires only local anesthesia
- The procedure is quick – usually lasting around 30 minutes
- It offers the potential for a substantial reduction in the pain you experience
Is the Procedure Safe and How Does it Work?
Radiofrequency lesioning is generally considered a safe and effective treatment option for chronic back pain. Radiofrequency lesioning creates small nerve tissue lesions that interrupt pain signals from the spine to the brain. When these pain signals are blocked, they cannot reach the brain, and you experience long-term relief from your back pain.
The procedure typically requires only local anesthesia and takes about 30 minutes to complete. During radiofrequency lesioning, a doctor uses fluoroscopy (a live x-ray) to guide an electrode needle into the nerve that carries the pain signals from your spine to your brain. The electrode sends radio frequency energy through the needle, creating a small “lesion” that interrupts these painful nerve signals for long-term relief.
Risks of Radiofrequency Lesioning
Although radiofrequency lesioning is considered a safe and effective treatment option, some risks are still involved. These include bruising or bleeding at the injection site and temporary nerve damage that may cause numbness or tingling in the area around the lesion. There is also a small risk of infection associated with any medical procedure.
What can you expect from treatment?
The effects of radiofrequency lesioning vary from person to person. Some people may experience reduced pain immediately after the procedure, while others might take several days or weeks for full relief. Not all cases of chronic back pain can be cured with radiofrequency lesioning, and results may vary depending on the cause of your discomfort.
Get Treatment for Back Pain Today!
If you or someone you know is dealing with chronic back pain, don’t suffer any longer. Radiofrequency Lesioning may be the answer to finding relief. This minimally-invasive procedure uses radio waves to target and heat specific nerve endings, resulting in long-term numbing of the area.
Patients have reported a decrease in both pain and medication usage after having this procedure. Contact Progressive Pain Management to request an appointment!
Epidural steroid injections (ESI) are a minimally invasive procedure performed to help reduce inflammation and pain caused by nerve root compression. Herniated discs, bone spurs, or spinal stenosis cause nerve compressions. Pain, numbness, or weakness along the nerve are symptoms of nerve compression, referred to as radiculopathy. This pain can last for days or even years if left untreated.
An epidural steroid injection aims to help reduce inflammation along the nerve root. Medication is injected in the fat-filled area between the bone and the protective layer of the spinal nerve, called the epidural space. These injections are intended to reduce pain so that normal activity and a physical therapy program can be resumed.
What is an Epidural Steroid Injection?
There are multiple types of steroid injections, most commonly described according to where they are injected. Steroid injections in the neck are called cervical epidural injections. Injections performed in the middle back are thoracic epidural steroid injections, and injections in the lower back are lumbar epidural injections.
The injections can also be labeled according to the direction of the needle. Most epidural steroid injections are placed between the lamina. This is called an interlaminar epidural steroid injection. The needle is aimed upwards toward the head and goes in between two laminae. Another type of injection is a transforaminal steroid injection. The needle travels along the course of a nerve and enters the spine from a diagonal direction. A caudal approach to ESIs allows the needle to enter directly into the epidural space through the sacral hiatus – a small boney opening directly above the tailbone.
The steroid injection contains a corticosteroid, such as triamcinolone, methyl-prednisolone, or dexamethasone, and an anesthetic numbing agent like lidocaine. They are injected into the area between the vertebra and the protective sac surrounding the spinal cord and nerves.
Why Are They Used?
These steroid injections are used in patients who suffer from pain in the neck, arm, lower back, or have sciatica. This treatment has proven beneficial to those with severe inflammatory conditions. Patients who have the following conditions are candidates for epidural steroid injections:
- Spinal Stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal and nerve root canal
- Herniated Disc – the material inside a disc can bulge or rupture through a weak area in the cartilage and come in contact with a spinal nerve.
- Degenerative Disc – breakdown or aging of a spinal disc causing the disc space to collapse or growth of bone spurs.
- Sciatica – compression of nerves that causes pain to travel into the buttocks and down the legs.
In some cases, ESI can be used to determine whether surgery will be successful in patients who have a herniated disc. The injections can ease pain enough so a physical therapy routine can be established.
Risks Involved with Epidural Steroid Injections
ESI procedures have been performed for many years and is considered a safe and effective treatment. Although uncommon, some patients do experience side effects from the medication. Patients may experience a “steroid flush” which is a flushing of the face and chest that can be accompanied by a low-grade fever.
Other side effects may include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Temporary water retention
Serious complications are very rare, but could include an allergic reaction to the contrast dye, infection, nerve damage, or bleeding. When this procedure is performed with fluoroscopic guidance, the risk is minimized. Generally, this type of procedure and injection is very well tolerated by most patients.
To learn more about epidural steroid injections and how they can help back pain, fill out the form below: