What Are Back Pain Injections

What Are Back Pain Injections

If you’ve been struggling with back pain, you might wonder if back pain injections are right for you.

There are many different types to choose from.

How do back injections help relieve back pain?

Back injections can help to lower inflammation, which relieves pain. The most commonly achieve this with the use of steroid medications that are injected into the site where the pain is being experienced.

Here are common back pain injections and what you need to know about them. It’s also important to know when a back injection is recommended for your pain.

Types Of Back Injections

Epidural Injections

Illustration of Epidural Steroid Injection

These injections make use of steroids that are inserted into the epidural space of the spine.

This is an area that’s found between a membrane known as the dura mater and the vertebral wall. It contains blood vessels and fat.

Sometimes an anesthetic is also used in combination with the medication to provide numbing effects.

Epidural injections only last for a short time and you don’t get complete pain relief, so they’re not usually the first line of treatment.

Before getting an epidural injection, your doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or other home remedies to alleviate your back pain.

If that doesn’t work, an epidural injection might be considered.

Their effects are certainly worth it. When it comes to back pain, epidural injections can last up to three months and they might actually prevent it from coming back, as The University of Michigan reports.

How They Work

Steroids decrease swelling and inflammation, thus reducing pressure on your nerves and their roots.

When Is It Suitable For Your Back Pain?

Your doctor could recommend a steroid shot for your back pain if you’ve had it for longer than six weeks and other therapies haven’t worked.

In addition, if the pain is so severe that it’s traveling down your leg, this also makes you a candidate for this back injection.

Nerve Block Injections

Occipital Nerve Block

There are different kinds of nerve block injections that you might have for back pain.

For example, therapeutic nerve blocks treat painful conditions, while diagnostic nerve block injections will be used by your doctor to help him/her determine what’s causing the pain.

How They Work

To treat pain in your back, a nerve block injection makes use of numbing medicine, such as lidocaine, to give you pain relief.

Nerve block injections tend to offer relief for a week or two, after which the pain may return.

However, if you’re suffering from intense pain, the relief can be just what you need to help you recover.

When Is It Suitable For Your Back Pain?

If your pain is related to a single nerve or group of nerves, a nerve block injection can help to offer pain relief.

Facet Block Injections

Procedure of Giving Facet Block Injection

This type of injection works in a similar way to the nerve block injection.

A facet joint is located on each side of the vertebra in the neck and back in pairs. These joints help to stabilize the spine and promote motion.

However, when there’s a condition such as arthritis present in the body, this can cause pain in these joints, as reported by Radiology Info. To treat that pain, a facet block injection can help.

How They Work

A facet block injection works by injecting local anesthetic and medication to numb a facet joint.

The use of fluoroscopy and CT imaging is often used to enable the doctor to guide the injection into the right spot.

After having the injection, you’ll experience the numbing effects of the anesthetic, and then the medicine will start to work within a few days. You can even gain pain relief for months.

When Is It Suitable For Back Pain?

If you suffer from arthritis, a facet joint injection can help you and it will be administered to the site where you’re experiencing pain.

Sometimes, facet joint injections can also be used to diagnose conditions that are causing you to feel pain.

A doctor will put medicine into the facet joint to see if the patient feels any relief. If there is pain relief, then the doctor will know that the joint is, in fact, a source of pain.

Sacroiliac Joint Injection

Illustration Of Sacroiliac Joint Injection

This injection is quite similar to how to facet joint injections work, however it targets the SI joints.

These joints are found between the pelvis and sacrum bones.

If you have problems in these joints, you might experience pain in your legs and lower back.

Often, you’ll find that one joint gives you pain on one side of the lower body, and it’s not common for both SI joints to give you pain simultaneously.

How They Work

The SI joint will be injected with local anesthetic and steroid medication to provide pain relief.

When Is It Suitable For Back Pain?

SI joint injections will be considered if you’ve got pain in your SI joints.

What Are The Side Effects Of Steroid Injections

Red Skin Symptom

Steroid injections are commonly used as back pain injections, but what are their side effects? Are they safe for everyone?

Some of the common side effects of steroid injections include:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • Facial flushing
  • Bruising
  • Swelling, pain, and redness, which are side effects of an injection
  • Blood sugar might increase for a few days if you’re diabetic
  • Blood pressure might increase for a few days if you have high blood pressure
  • Pale or dimpled skin at the site of injection that doesn’t always go away

A steroid injection isn’t safe for the following people, as NHS reports:

  • Pregnant women, women who are trying to fall pregnant, and women who are currently breastfeeding
  • Anyone who’s had a steroid injection in the last few weeks (it’s common to take six-week breaks between injections. Similarly, a doctor might not give you steroid injections if you’ve had three in the past year as that tends to be the maximum amount over 12 months.)
  • Anyone who’s experienced allergic side effects from the injections in the past as that would make having another injection risky
  • Anyone who’s currently fighting an infection, even an eye infection
  • Anyone with epilepsy, liver problems, kidney conditions, or heart problems
  • Anyone who’s been taking aspirin or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) might have an increased risk of experiencing bleeding after a back pain injection and might not be able to have one, as the University of Virginia reports.

It’s always important to tell your doctor if you have conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure and if you’re on medication such as anticoagulants that prevent blood clots.

He/she might still recommend you have the steroid injection to treat your pain if it seems like the benefits will outweigh the risks, but your medical history is always important to mention to increase the safety and effectiveness of steroid injections.

Related Questions

What are steroid injections made of?

They’re synthetic versions of the body’s hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands.

These glands are located on the top of the kidneys and they produce steroids cortisol and aldosterone.

So, corticosteroid medication mimics these naturally-produced hormones.

How do steroid injections work?

They relieve inflammation when injected into a muscle or joint, reducing pain.

But they can also decrease the body’s immune system’s activity when injected into the blood, thus making them a good treatment for autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis in which the immune system attacks the body.

What about cortisone in back pain injections?

Cortisone can be used in back pain injections. It’s a steroid medication that has strong anti-inflammatory benefits.

It can be used in combination with a local anesthetic to lower inflammation, and it’s a long-lasting medication that can work for several months to keep you free of pain.


Having an injection for back pain is not usually the first line of treatment your doctor will consider.

However, if your pain is severe, constant, and/or it hasn’t been alleviated with the use of home remedies, then back pain injections can be administered.

There are many types of back pain injections, but many of them make use of steroids in the form of corticosteroids.

These help to reduce pain by targeting inflammation, thus offering more relief.

Of course, as with any medication, it’s important to ensure that you prevent your risk of recurrence, whether you suffered an injury that caused your back pain or the pain was as a result of wear and tear.

By leading a healthy lifestyle and being careful about protecting your back, you’ll reduce your risk of requiring back injections in the future.

After all, prevention is better than cure.

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