Managing chronic pain can be frustrating and debilitating for many people. It can be challenging to know which specialist to see, which treatments to undergo, and what medications to take. Chronic neck and back pain is often debilitating and influential on many aspects of your daily life. Long-term pain can even negatively impact your mental health. Pain management is extremely important when suffering from chronic pain in order to minimize your physical and mental suffering.
The first step to treating chronic pain is to seek the thorough evaluation and diagnosis from a qualified medical professional. Although some diagnoses may be straight-forward, most conditions involving the spine are more difficult to identify. It is important to understand that pain is subjective and is defined differently among individuals. Therefore, the effectiveness of certain treatments also tends to differentiate between different people. What works for one person might not have the same outcome for your specific condition.
The reality of pain management is… it is a process of trial and error. Although it can be frustrating, it is important to consider and try different management methods to learn what works best for you.
Injections are a common option of pain management. If injections are an option made to you by your doctor, then you should consider receiving one before resorting to surgical intervention. Depending on the type of injection, it may be used to treat pain stemming from the spine or joints. Some common types of injections include epidural steroid injections, selective nerve root blocks, facet joint injections, trigger point injections, and intra-articular joint injections.
· Epidural Steroid Injections
Epidural steroid injections are the most commonly performed injections. Although the effects are typically temporary, it can be beneficial to those suffering from an episode of severe neck or back pain. This injection involves the administration of epidural directly to the dura of the spinal cord, which contains cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the nerve roots. The epidural can reduce the inflammation that is associated with many conditions, such as disc herniations and spinal stenosis.
· Facet Joint Injections and Selective Nerve Root Blocks
Facet joint injections and selective nerve root blocks are also common injections that are used to manage chronic pain in the spine. They are primarily utilized as a diagnostic tool to isolate and identify the specific source of pain while simultaneously reducing inflammation and numbing the pain generated from the area. These injections are performed using a steroid to reduce inflammation of the area and lidocaine to anesthetize the pain. Fluoroscopy, or a live x-ray, is used during both injection procedures to ensure that the medication is administered to the correct location. If the pain disappears after receiving the injection, then it is confirmed that the site of delivery is where pain is generating from.
Trigger point injections are administered directly to the trigger point for pain relief. A trigger point is a focal area of muscle spasms that usually occurs in the shoulders and upper back area. These injections don’t always administer the same medications and may contain anesthetics, corticosteroids, or a mixture of the two. In some cases, no medication is injected, and the needle is inserted alone. A “dry-needle” trigger point injection can help to inactivate the trigger point and relieve pain. Trigger point injections can treat a variety of chronic pain conditions including tension headaches and fibromyalgia.
· Intra-articular Joint Injections
Intra-articular joint injections utilize corticosteroids that are administered directly into the joint space to reduce the inflammation in tendons or ligaments. These injections are employed to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, increase lubrication, and improve the range of motion of the joint. Intra-articular injections can be used to treat individuals who suffer from osteoarthritis.
Our staff at our pain clinic Miami include a variety of physicians that have received training in pain management, including neurosurgeons and physiatrists. Our team comprises of physicians that are certified to evaluate your condition, make a diagnosis, and administer these different types of injections. To learn more about injections and other methods of pain relief, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled medical specialists.