While opioid medications do help those with chronic pain, they can cause their own side effects–from addiction to overdose. Controlled short-term use of these medications is often beneficial for patients, but growing evidence is showing that with long-term use of these drugs, the risks of dependency and cycles of abuse can outweigh the benefits. For those with chronic pain, there are options. Minimally invasive injections can help with many types of pain.
What are pain injections?
Patients with low back pain and neck pain specifically can benefit greatly from epidural steroid injections. These injections are one of the most common procedures utilized today for chronic pain and are endorsed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services as a critical tool in improving quality of life for those with pain.
An epidural steroid injection is given within the space just outside of the durable membrane that protects the spinal cord. The physician administers a steroid medication directly into the area with the most inflammation within the back. It is a relatively quick and painless procedure that can be performed on an outpatient basis.
The procedure itself only takes 15 minutes, however, pain relief may last for several years. If pain relief is not long-term, often one or two more injections is all that is needed to achieve full effect. As with any medical procedure, there are risks but these are normally mild and generally last a few days after the epidural steroid injection.
This same technique is applied during joint injections. A solution made from steroids is injected directly into a joint with pain. It can help treat pain and allow the patient to regain flexibility and greater mobility. These injections can be administered in the joints of the hip, knee, elbow, and back.
By researching new therapy options, you can begin to take charge of your chronic pain and find new alternatives for treatment.
Along with these injections, there are many other treatment options–from those based in alternative medicine practices to innovative techniques that are providing patients with relief. Talk to your doctor to see what options are available for you.
Have you received an epidural steroid or joint injection for pain?