What are spinal injections?| Dr. Andrew Cash, MD Las Vegas, Nevada

By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Cash, MD

Chronic and severe back pain can many times, be treated with spinal injections.  This procedure can help alleviate a patient’s back pain by helping reduce swelling and inflammation along the spine. 

What is a spinal injection?

These injections are also known as “blocks.” They can be used in two ways.  They can first be used to help diagnose the specific source of back or neck pain.  These types of blocks are called diagnostic blocks.  The other injections are therapeutic injections, meaning they are used to ease pain associated with specific spinal conditions.  Most often, spinal injections are used as part of a treatment plan, rather than just one single injection. 

How is it done?

Spinal injections use the guidance of x-rays, which allows the physician to see the correct placement of the medication.  This means it is safer and more effective in treating the patient’s issue.  First, a liquid dye is injected before the medication to assure that there is correct flow to the treatment area. Next, an anesthetic is used to help numb the area, and then the medication is injected.

What types of spinal injections are there?

Epidural injections: these types of therapeutic injections are used to treat pain that starts in the spine and extends into the arm or leg.  These injections have an anesthetic as well as an anti-inflammatory medication (such as a steroid) and when injected near the affected nerve, can help reduce inflammation and reduce pain. 

Facet joint injections: these types of injections can be both diagnostic and therapeutic and are most commonly used to treat arthritic conditions or back conditions that are a result of injury.  They can be used on the neck, middle or lower back.

Sacroiliac joint injections: these types of injections are used to treat the joints between the sacrum and the pelvic bones.  These injections will most often include a steroid medication to help provide long term pain relief. 

While spinal injections are generally safe procedures, as with any medical procedure, there are risks and potential side effects.  Some common side effects include facial flushing, increased appetite, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual irregularities, and increased blood sugar.  Other risks with spinal injections include muscle weakness, spinal headache, bleeding, infection, or paralysis.

If you think you’re a candidate for spinal injections, contact Dr. Cash at Desert Institute of Spine Care for an appointment at: http://www.disclv.com.

You can also view Dr. Cash's Verified Reviews® at www.medrounds.org/Dr_Andrew_Cash or his personal page at www.andrew-cash-md.com.