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Injections - how do they work?

MeeshaMMeesha Posts: 55
I need injections explained to me .. I can't ask my surgeon since I can't book an apt for soon enough.
How exactly do they work? By reducing inflammation? If injections don't "cure" the herniation, then the nerves are still squeezed, and becoming damaged right? So even if the injection takes away the pain, the nerves could still be getting more and more damaged, and then once it wore off, if I needed surgery it would be too late wouldn't it? Please help - thanks.
discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    we can only provide the layman's view.

    For more detailed information please look at:

    Spinal Injections

    That not only has the details but also several videos you should see
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Injections were a total waste of money for me. I had two of them and I think they ultimately exacerbated an already miserable situation.

    I got maybe 3 days of relief from them, no more than the Medrol.
  • It really depends on the type of injection that is being given, the location it is given in and the purpose for it, whether it be diagnostic or therapeutic.

    I've had many different types of injections and feel that even the ones meant to be of therapeutic value that "didn't work", still provided me with useful diagnostic information. Some of these injections also gave the surgeon and the PM doc better feedback for planning the direction of my treatment and care.

    What type of injection are you scheduled to get?

  • Thanks for all your comments, they were really helpful. I also read the articles.

    I found out what kind of injection I'll be having - it's an ESI.
    discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.
  • If you enjoy reading clinical studies, you might be interested in this information:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15363419 --
    The effect of spinal steroid injections for degenerative disc disease.
  • Just had my second ESI on Friday. My first ESI was back in Sept. 2008, and it lasted a good 18 months. About two months ago, the tingling and lower back pain gradually came back. After 24 hours since injection, NO MORE TINGLING OR PAIN. I don't want the surgery, so will continue to get the injections. Just hoping this one lasts at least a year, like the first one did. Whole experience was very positive. Had it done in short procedure unit at the hospital where I work. From arrival to discharge, less than two hours. Quick, easy, totally painless. What a relief to be free from constant pain.
  • As you can see the results will vary. I know people that got no relief and others that rave. I have heard that you may need 2-3 of them so don't be too disappointed if the first one only works for a week or so. I met someone who said the first one worked for 2 weeks, the next for 2 months, and his third one has now lasted more than 2 years.

    I think it depends on your diagnosis but I hope it works out for you. I didn't try them but was willing to try anything to avoid surgery on the lower back.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes.
  • I was supposed to get 3 injections and was told by the Dr. that after the 2nd injection that if it doesn't help after the 2nd injection that the 3rd would be worthless, i had them well was supposed to get them injected into L 4 & L 5 but those ares was so bad that they had to inject them in a different place BUT WAS TOTALLY A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY
  • :P I had 1 injection done last August. They had to put me totally out to do it. The injection worked for 3 weeks. That was the best 3 weeks I have had in years. I won't do it again tho. Not worth it to me. I am having fusion surgery June 9th. So I guess I won't have to worry bout injections anymore. #:S
    Good luck with your injection. Hope it gives you the relief you are looking for. ;)
  • Did your surgeon send you for injections? If injections work they can help you hold off surgery for a while. I would ask your doctor what possible permanent damage could be caused by holding off on surgery. Sometimes the disk will shrink on it's own which is why they like to try injections to give you some time.

    Bottom line is only your doctor has the answer on this one. If he sent you for injections then he must feel it is safe to wait a bit. Good luck and let us know what happens.
  • There are 2 different types of spinal nerves; the motor nerves which activate the muscles and sensory which communicate pain.

    Sometimes a herniation can affect the motor nerves which cause muscle weakening. Sometimes it can affect the sensory nerves which communicate pain. and sometimes it can affect both motor and sensory.

    Injections can be very helpful for issues involving the sensory nerves.

    For me, the injections were incredibly helpful with relieving pain.

    My doc also cautioned me to not be surprised if after a round of injections for pain I felt in my hips (where I had the majority of pain) that I may also have additional pain else where that I hadn't realized yet.

    Wishing you the best of luck. Let us know how you are doing!
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