FAQs on Disc Injections in Atlanta

An intradiscal injection has a diagnostic and therapeutic purpose. When disc injections are done for diagnostic reasons, a local anesthetic blocks the disc pain so the doctor can determine which disc is causing the discomfort. When done for therapeutic purposes, the injected steroid decreases disc inflammation and relieves pain the majority of the time.

What are intervertebral discs?

The 23 intervertebral discs are fibrous, quarter-sized cushions that sit between each vertebra. These disc form joints that allows vertebral movement and hold the bones of the spine together.

The outer fibrous ring of the disc is the annulus fibrosus, which surrounds the jelly-like center called the nucleus pulposus.

Why are disc injections performed?

Low back pain is a major problem for Americans and people globally. According to recent estimates, approximately 90% of the US population will experience some form of back pain at some time during their lives.

Discogenic back pain is the medical term for chronic low back pain of a nagging, aching, or throbbing character that does not respond well to rest and conservative measures. This is the pain associated with degenerative disc disease and spinal arthritis.

What should I expect before the procedure?

Before a disc injection, the Atlanta pain doctor will conduct a detailed physical examination and ask you questions about your condition. In addition, he/she will inquire about your current medications.

Be sure to discuss all medications you are taking with the doctor, as you are not allowed to eat or drink for several hours before the disc injection. The medical staff will advise you on where and when you are to report to the medical center for your disc injection.

How is a disc injection done?

When you arrive at the procedure center, an intravenous (IV) catheter is inserted into your arm. The medical staff will give you a mild sedative during the procedure through the IV catheter.

You will be positioned on your abdomen, with a pillow for support. Using x-ray guidance (fluoroscopy), the doctor determines the safest pathway to reach the damaged disc. A local anesthetic is given before the thin needle is inserted into the disc and the steroid is administered.

What can I expect after a disc injection?

After the intradiscal procedure, you will be supervised for 30-45 minutes. The nursing professionals will monitor your vital signs, which includes blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, and temperature.

Expect to experience some mild discomfort at the injection site after the anesthetic wears off, which may last for 24-48 hours. To relieve the pain, you are advised to apply ice packs to the area for around 15 minutes several times during the day.

Are disc injections effective?

In a recent study of intradiscal injections, more than 65% of patients reported pain relief after the procedure that lasted an average of 112 days. To evaluate intradiscal injections, researchers conducted a recent double-blind, randomized, controlled study where pain and function was assessed. After careful analysis, disc injection of a corticosteroid was found to be a safe and effective measure for treating chronic low back pain.