Interventional pain management uses injections of drugs to reduce pain. Besides its therapeutic benefit, interventional pain management can play a role in identifying the source of the pain. Interventional procedures are commonly done with the use of fluoroscopy (live x-ray guidance). This allows the physicians to perform injections with increased accuracy and safety. To insure patient comfort during these minimally invasive procedures, the patient has the option of "twilight" sedation which makes the procedure virtually pain free. Procedures usually last less than an hour, and the patient is able to walk away from the treatment center the same day.
Common Interventional Procedures
Epidural Steroid Injection
This is the most commonly done procedure to relieve pain. The injection delivers a powerful steroid solution directly into the spinal canal, which reduces the swelling and irritation around a nerve or part of the spinal cord. Most patients who receive epidural injections will experience less pain for a number of weeks or months, thus allowing them to participate in a rehabilitation program. When severe symptoms flare-up, epidural injections are usually repeated.
Facet Joint Injection
Facet joints link the bones (vertebrae) of our spines to each other. The facet joints are paired (one on the right and one on the left side of the spine) on each vertebra. Facet joint injections are used to help the doctor locate the source of your back pain. Injecting medication directly into the facet joint also helps to relieve the source of the pain.
Sacroiliac Joint Injection
The tailbone (the sacrum) is located at the base of the spine. The sacrum is connected to the pelvis by the sacroiliac joint. It can become a source of lower back and buttocks pain. An injection into the sacroiliac joint can provide relief from pain.
Joint and Soft Tissue Injections
During this procedure, the doctor injects a corticosteroid or pain reliever directly into the affected joint or muscle to provide relief. The relief can last for weeks or months, or longer. The injection also may be used to take away fluid that has built up in an inflamed joint.
When to Seek Treatment
For most people, back pain tends to get better within two weeks to three months. However, the sooner you treat pain, the less likely it is to get worse or cause other complications. Patients should realize that in many instances there is no quick fix to a back pain problem. Their effort and compliance is crucial in gaining the maximum benefit from the program.
Dr. Ninad Sthalekar specializes in non-operative spine care and orthopedic pain management with Bucks County Orthopedic Specialists.