If non-surgical options are found to be ineffective or not indicated for your specific condition, your provider might recommend a spine injection. Spine injections are sometimes used to diagnose the specific area that the pain is occurring, and at other times are used to provide relief of pain.
There are three primary types of spine injections:
Epidural Injections are intended to relieve pain in the spine. These injections can be done in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine, or sacroiliac joint. The physician injects a steroid (an anti-inflammatory medicine used to reduce inflammation) into a very precise area of the spine, using contrast dye and X-ray (fluoroscopy).
Medial Branch Block Injections numb the nerves to test if the pain goes away. Medial branch nerves are small nerves that connect your facet joints. When the facet joint becomes inflamed (swollen or irritated), the nerves will send pain messages to your brain. A medial branch block injection helps the physician confirm where the pain is coming from. This injection is only diagnostic and only lasts for a few hours. If the injection is helpful, your doctor will recommend a radiofrequency ablation.
Radiofrequency Ablation is often referred to as “RFA,” and is a minimally invasive procedure used to help reduce pain in the neck and back. An electrical current produced by a radio wave is used to heat a small area of nerve tissue. When the procedure is effective, pain relief the relief can last for 8-12 months. An RFA can be repeated as needed to address pain related to degeneration of the joints from arthritis.