How Spinal Injections Help

A spinal injection involves injecting a local anesthetic and corticosteroid into one or more levels of the cervical or lumbar spine.  A local anesthetic provides immediate, but short-term pain relief.  A corticosteroid drug is a powerful anti-inflammatory; it slowly takes effect and may provide long-term pain relief.

Two-fold purpose

  1. Reduce nerve inflammation, calm symptoms, aid healing
  2. Obtain important diagnostic information*

*Pain relief may prove a particular nerve root is causing or contributing to pain and symptoms.

Two common injection therapies are lumbar epidural steroid injections and facet joint injections.

Typical injection procedure

Spinal injections are administered in a sterile setting.  Intravenous medications are given to help you relax.  In the procedure suite, we position you on the treatment table, clean the skin area, and inject a local anesthetic to numb your skin and spine muscles.

Fluoroscopy (real-time x-ray) is used to guide the needle into position.  Contrast dye is injected to confirm needle placement.  Then the anesthetic and corticosteroid is injected into the target area of the spine.  Pain may temporarily increase during the injection.  After the injection, a small bandage covers the injection site.

What to expect

After a spinal injection, you may experience one of the following results:

  • Good pain relief
  • Less pain
  • Pain is relieved, returns for a short time period, and improves again.
  • Days of pain relief, then pain returns
  • Brief pain relief
  • No pain relief

Even if your result is not favorable, that does not mean a spinal injection cannot help to ease your pain.  We urge you to keep a pain journal to record your pain and symptoms.  Your notes help measure your response to the spinal injection.  Depending on your outcome, another spinal injection or other therapies may be recommended.

Can you benefit from a spinal injection?

Rehabilitation Medicine Center of New Jersey routinely cares for patients who have suffered on-the-job, accident-related or episodic neck or low back pain.  Dr. Colon and his team of spine experts share goals to (1) reduce your pain, (2) improve or restore your functional abilities and (3) return you to full activity as soon as is reasonable.