Spinal Injections & Joint Injections
What is a pain management procedure?
A pain management procedure, performed by a radiologist, is an image-guided injection of medication through a precisely placed, small needle. These procedures can provide pain relief, with the goal of returning you to normal activity. They can also give additional knowledge about your condition and finding the source of your pain. Injections can be performed in the back/spine and joints.
How should I prepare for my exam?
- If you have an active infection and are taking antibiotics, the medication course must be completed prior to the procedure.
- Inform us if you are or may be pregnant, or have allergies to medications or x-ray dye (contrast).
- Arrive 15 minutes early to complete registration.
- Bring your insurance card and a valid photo ID.
Depending on the injection procedure you are having, the following preps may also apply:
- Do not eat solid food 2 hours prior to the appointment.
- You may need someone to drive you home.
- If you are taking blood thinners (Coumadin, Plavix or Ticlid), you will have to stop the medication prior to the procedure. Contact your healthcare provider before stopping any medication to determine if it is safe for you.
How long will my procedure take?
Most pain management injections take 30 minutes.
What happens during my procedure?
Depending on the area to be injected, you will be positioned on an x-ray table on your stomach or back. The area will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution and a local anesthetic will be applied to numb the area where the needle will be inserted.
Fluoroscopy (a type of low-dose x-ray) is used to clearly view the area in real-time, on a video monitor. This ensures the exact placement of the needle during the procedure. After the needle is placed, the contrast material is injected to confirm that the needle is in the correct location. Some patients feel a slight pressure sensation or discomfort as the contrast is injected. This is temporary and will gradually dissipate within a short time after the procedure.
Depending on the type of procedure you're having, the injection may contain one or both of the following:
- Anesthetic, which helps give immediate pain relief.
- Steroid preparation, which may provide longer relief of your symptoms.
After the procedure, you will be observed for a short time.
What happens after my procedure?
A summary of the procedure and findings will be sent to your healthcare provider. Refrain from driving, rigorous activity and alcohol consumption for the remainder of the day. You can resume normal activity the next day. You may feel soreness at the needle insertion site for two to three days; you can use an ice pack to relieve any discomfort, up to 15 minutes per hour.
As with any procedure involving a needle, there is a small chance of infection or bleeding. Rarely there could be a neural injury, headache, temporary numbness, weakness or facial flushing.