When I was in my 40s, I had an injection for a disc problem. It worked great but now more than 20 years later I have back pain again. This time it's from spinal stenosis. Would an injection help?
Lumbar injections of the nerve root have been around for almost 30 years. The injection is a mix of a local anesthetic and steroid. The anesthetic helps with the pain. The steroid reduces inflammation. Less swelling in the area means less pressure on the nerve and therefore less pain.
Studies at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have reported on the long-term use of lumbar nerve injections. They studied a group of 55 patients who had radicular low back pain from a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal canal is the tube or opening where the spinal cord goes from the neck down to the bottom of the spine.
Radicular pain refers to pain in the low back that travels to the buttocks and/or down the leg. It is caused by pressure or irritation of the spinal nerve as it exits the spinal canal. The results of the study showed that nerve root blocks decrease pain from both conditions. Patients with herniated disc were more likely to get pain relief.
If you obtained relief of painful symptoms with a nerve block for a previous disc problem, you may be a good candidate for a similar treatment for spinal stenosis. Once an orthopedic surgeon has examined you and perhaps ordered some imaging studies, then he or she will be better able to advise you. There is a broad range of treatment options for this problem.
Daniel Riew, MD, et al. Nerve Root Blocks in the Treatment of Lumbar Radicular Pain. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. August 2006. Vol. 88-A. No. 8. Pp. 1722-1725.
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