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What are injections for back pain?

If your back is painful, due to wear and tear or injury, injections for back pain can treat the exact point of the pain. The procedure may provide more effective pain relief than taking medication.

We offer back pain injections of steroids or anaesthetic directly into the joints or nerves, alongside physiotherapy if necessary, which can be successful in relieving your symptoms.

I have a question about injections for back pain

Why would I have injections for back pain?

Your spine is made up of a number of bones, or vertebrae. These are connected to one another in a way that allows your spine to move as you move. They also protect your spinal cord and nerves.

Between the vertebrae are intervertebral discs, which act as a shock-absorber, and facet joints – which connect the vertebrae to one another and keep the spine aligned. Over time, these can wear out and cause back pain.

You might also need treatment for back pain caused by foraminal stenosis (a narrowed exit hole for the nerve), a slipped disc or a slipped backbone. An injection for back pain procedure can offer relief.

What are the different types of injections for back pain?

Nerve root block

A nerve root block is a steroid or anaesthetic injection to treat back pain caused by a trapped or inflamed nerve in the spinal column. The injection is given directly into the area of your back which is causing you pain.

A nerve root block injection may improve your pain, but it isn’t a cure for your condition. The injection will reduce pain for most people for a period of time and will completely and permanently eliminate pain for others.

Facet joint injections

Anaesthetic or steroid injections into the facet joints can help if they’re affected by arthritis. The injection is a mixture of local anaesthetic (which numbs the nerves for a few hours, so you won’t feel anything) and steroid (which gives reduces inflammation in the joint and nerves). Facet joint injections may be carried out on several joints during the same operation.

The procedure isn’t always an effective cure for back pain, but it can relieve your symptoms. If successful, it can be repeated at four-monthly intervals.

Medial branch block for back pain

Medial branch block can also be a good temporary solution to reduce back pain caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis. It’s usually recommended after other physiotherapy options have been tried. 

The medial branch block works by injecting a local anaesthetic directly to the nerves in your facet joint. This blocks the pain signals travelling through the nerve.

What happens before an injection for back pain?

Your Consultant will discuss your symptoms and medical history to determine the best treatment for you.

What happens during the injection for back pain procedure?

An injection for back pain procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes. You’ll be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area and we’ll monitor your blood pressure and pulse rate throughout.

Once the local anaesthetic has taken effect, your Consultant will carefully insert the needle into your back. It’s important that this injection is made in exactly the right place, so they may also inject a colourless contrast dye and be guided by x-ray or computerised tomography images (CT scan).

You may feel some pressure or discomfort during the back pain injection procedure, but this is only temporary.

What happens after an injection for back pain?

The injection is performed as a day case, so you’ll be able to go home on the same day. You should ask someone to collect you from the hospital after a back pain injection procedure, as you won’t be able to drive yourself. If possible, you should ideally arrange for someone to stay with you for a day after your treatment. You shouldn’t operate any machinery or vehicle, drink alcohol, provide childcare or sign any legal documents.

Depending on the injection, you may need some help for the first few days when walking or standing as weakness in your neck, back and legs is common.

You should be able to return to your usual activities after 24 hours. If you’re feeling up to it, you should try to increase your exercise in the weeks following your treatment to improve your muscle tone. Taking a walk, cycling or swimming will help, but only do these gradually. If you’re unsure, or are finding exercise difficult, please contact your Consultant.

What are the risks of an injection for back pain?

Injections for back pain are performed regularly and are generally safe. The risk usually relates to the anaesthetic, rather than the injection itself.

Your Consultant can answer any concerns you have about the procedure or side effects.

What is the success rate for injections for back pain?

Injections for back pain generally have a success rates of 75% or higher depending on the injection. However, Facet joint injections and medial branch blocks are a temporary pain relief. You may be offered further injections or Radiofrequency denervation (facet denervation) when the effects wear off.

Are there any side effects of injections for back pain?

The risks and side effects of injections for back pain generally relate to the anaesthetic used. These side effects are rare (around 1 in 100 patients experience them), but include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Numbness of the injected area
  • Facial flushing for a few days
  • Leg numbness and weakness
  • Spinal nerve injury
  • Increased pain in the treated area
  • An allergic reaction to the injection

Your Consultant will be happy to discuss any questions or concerns you have about side effects from injections for back pain.

How much do injections for back pain cost?

The cost of injections for back pain are listed in the back and spine section of our pricing page. To find out more, complete our online quotation form or call our Private Patient Team on 01580 363158.

Our Consultants

Dr Mo Faris

Mo Faris

Consultant Interventional Radiologist

Dr Faris's interests include cutting edge vascular and non-vascular interventional radiology procedures.

Mr Satish Ganesan

Satish Ganesan

Consultant Spinal Specialist

Mr Ganesan is a specialist in the diagnosis and management of most aspects of lower spinal conditions.

Mr Omar Mohamed

Omar Mohamed

Consultant Orthopaedic Spinal Specialist

Mr Mohamed's specialties include treatments for back pain and spinal conditions.

Mr Selmon

Guy Selmon

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Mr Selmon is Regional Coordinator for the NJR and has expanded his adult spinal practice.

Mr Omar Yanni

Omar Yanni

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Mr Yanni's specialties include treatment for spinal conditions.

Contact us about injections for back pain

It's easy to find out more about treatment by giving us a call or completing our enquiry form.