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What Are the Most Common Injections for Pain?

Oct 02, 2023
What Are the Most Common Injections for Pain?

What Are the Most Common Injections for Pain?

Everyone experiences pain now and then, such as from a tension headache, an ankle sprain, or a bang on the head from a slip-and-fall. Chronic pain, however, is another story; unless you have a chronic pain condition, it can be hard to imagine what it feels like always to be struggling against the pain.

Lower back (lumbar) pain is one of the most common types. According to the World Health Organization, in 2020, it affected 619 million people worldwide. In fact, it’s the single leading cause of global disability and the condition for which the greatest number of people can benefit from rehabilitation.

In most cases of acute back pain, such as caused by an injury or twisting the “wrong” way, symptoms go away on their own when the injury heals, and that’s that. However, the symptoms persist for some people, turning into chronic pain.

At Interventional Pain Center in Legacy Office Park, Norman, Oklahoma, Dr. James Stephens and our team offer pain management services, including for lower back pain. One modality we use is injectable medications, with different injections for different types and intensities of pain. Here, the team addresses the most common injections they might use to combat pain.

What are the most common injections for pain?

Injections vary depending on the body part and type and intensity of pain. 

Dr. Stephens uses fluoroscopy (live X-ray) or ultrasound guidance for precision when performing spinal injections. He injects a contrast dye into the tissues to ensure accurate needle placement at the suspected pain site. This imaging technique also helps prevent injury caused by injecting a drug into adjacent structures such as blood vessels.

Commonly administered injections for neck and back pain include:

  • Epidural injections deposit the medication, usually steroids to combat inflammation, in the epidural space of the spine, where it bathes the nerves
  • Selective nerve root block injections: target a specific spinal nerve and deposit medication at the point where the nerve exits the spinal canal between vertebrae
  • Facet joint injections treat pain stemming from a specific facet joint with degenerative wear
  • Medial branch blocks deposit medication around the medial branches of spinal nerves, those that send pain signals to the brain from an arthritic facet joint and can also treat joint-related headaches
  • Sacroiliac (SI) joint injections treat pain where the joint connects the spine to the pelvis
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) treats pain by destroying the medial or lateral branch nerve ending of a facet or SI joint

Pain relief from injections may occur within a few hours or up to 1-2 weeks, such as with RFA. We often combine injections with physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles and restore range of motion.

You might also be a good candidate for corticosteroid injections, which calm inflammation and pain.

Trigger point injections (TPIs) are another category of injection treatment. A trigger point injection can help soothe myofascial pain from the tissue covering the muscles, especially in the neck, shoulder, arms, legs, and lower back.

The trigger points are painful “knots” in your muscles extremely sensitive to touch/pressure. These knots can form after an acute trauma or by repetitive microtrauma that stresses the muscle fibers and causes them to lock in a contracted state.

TPIs commonly use a quick-acting local anesthetic, either with or without a corticosteroid, botulinum toxin, or no drug at all (dry needling).

Hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring gel-like substance, forms the basis for treating arthritic joints. An injection of the gel into the joint space can lubricate it enough that the inflammation dies down, and so does the pain.

Are you struggling with pain and not getting relief? Interventional Pain Center can help. Call our office at 405-759-8407 to set up a consultation with Dr. Stephens, or use our online booking tool today.