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How are spinal injections used for back pain?

Your doctor may recommend a spinal injection if you have back pain that has not responded to other treatments, such as physical therapy. Spinal injections are an alternative to back surgery. They can be used to both diagnose and treat back pain.
  • To diagnose your pain: The doctor injects numbing medication (anesthetic) into one or more specific areas of your spine, blocking all feeling in those areas. If the injections relieve your pain, they can confirm the source of your pain and help the doctor know how to treat it. If you still feel pain after the injection, it may mean the pain is coming from somewhere else. You may need several injections or types of injections to find the source of your pain.
  • To relieve your pain: Once the source of your pain is confirmed, the doctor can use spinal injections to relieve your pain, reduce swelling, or improve mobility. An anti-inflammatory medication such as cortisone is injected directly into the place the pain is coming from. Depending on the type of medication injected, you may feel pain relief right away, or it may take a few days or more to take effect. Pain relief may be temporary (lasting several weeks or months) or long lasting.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.