SPINAL PAIN – Neck and Back

Back and neck pain are leading causes of pain and disability across the world1.  Often simple pain killers and advice will suffice but for some people, the misery can last months or years.  Targeted injections are one of the treatments that have proven to be effective in relieving pain for some patients but, much like any therapy, it won’t work for all.  Low back pain is not a diagnosis – it is a symptom.  We don’t use injections for non-specific back pain.  Injections are used to diagnose and treat specific causes of neck or back pain and sciatica – those that arise from the lumbar disc, facet and sacroiliac joints. We believe pain relief is as important as improving your mobility and quality of life so we promote an active lifestyle alongside our treatments.

Why use injections?

People who suffer from low back pain should be supported using multiple techniques including medications and talking therapies. Sometimes these are not effective or have unpleasant side effects.  Our precision diagnostic injections are designed to give us a much clearer idea of the cause of your back pain.  Unlike drugs, it is close to the source of the pain, so you do not need big doses to get the desired effect.

I’m worried about needles especially near my spine!

You will never be forced to undergo anything you don’t want.  Our consultants appreciate it can be scary for some people, and will gently guide you through your journey.  Many patients have injections in painful areas but, where effective, are keen to continue the treatment for the months of relief they get afterwards. Rest assured, they are skilled practitioners and serious complications to injections are extremely rare.

Do you use steroids? Why steroids?

For a number of treatments, we use small doses of steroids.  These aren’t the bodybuilding type of steroids used by muscle men, rather the type used to treat other disorders such as asthma, and similar to the type that the body produces naturally.  We know that a number of spinal problems relate to local inflammation and steroids can help dampen this inflammation and relieve pain.  Directing the steroid to a specific area in the spine also allows us to reduce the dose we need to give, and that helps to avoid some of the serious side effects.  We also offer treatments (radiofrequency ablation) that can avoid the need for steroids altogether.

How long will injections last?

Some injections are designed to diagnose and others to treat pain, and they can last from days to months and even years.  We will always strive to find the one that works the best for you.

What treatments do you offer?

We offer therapies included within national recommendations made by The National Health and Care Institute (NICE).

These are:

  • Diagnostic medial branch blocks (for neck and low back pain)
  • Diagnostic sacroiliac joint injections
  • Nerve root blocks
  • Epidural steroids
  • Transforaminal epidural steroids
  • Radiofrequency ablation to medial branches
  • Radiofrequency ablation for sacroiliac joint pain
  • Pulsed radiofrequency lesioning to nerve roots
  • Percutaneous nucleoplasty through coblation
  • Spinal cord stimulation work up

References

1. Eur Spine J. 2018 Sep;27(Suppl 6):796-801. doi: 10.1007/s00586-017-5432-9. Epub 2018 Feb 26.
The Global Spine Care Initiative: a summary of the global burden of low back and neck pain studies.
Hurwitz EL1, Randhawa K2,3, Yu H2,3, Côté P2,3, Haldeman S4,5,6.

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