Chronic pain is one of the most common health issues faced by Americans. In fact, one in five U.S. adults—or about 20 percent of the population—report having chronic pain at any given time.
From cancer to rheumatoid arthritis to stomach ulcers, the causes of chronic pain are widely varied. In most cases, we try to take a simple approach to managing the pain, designed to help the patient regain a certain quality of life they might be missing. Typically that includes non-invasive therapies like spinal cord stimulation, physical therapy, radio frequency ablation, massage, and even over the counter pain medicines such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or even acetaminophen. Some patients might even require stronger prescription medications to help manage the pain.
But in some cases where the first and second lines of treatment aren’t sufficient, and the patient continues to experience significant pain, we can perform a series of treatments called injection therapy. There are a number of different types, each suited for different situations. Let’s take a closer look at a few of them.
What Are Injection Therapies?
Simply put, injection therapies are medications that are injected either directly into areas where patients experience chronic pain or intravenously. There are a number of different types of injection therapies to treat muscles, joints, nerve irritations, and others.
Injection therapies are often preferred because they bypass the digestive system and go directly into the bloodstream and inflamed tissues, making them more immediate and often longer lasting.
What Injection Therapies Do You Offer?
Here at PASS, we offer two distinct types of injection therapies. Here is an overview of what we offer.
Trigger Point Injection
Trigger point injection (TPI) is used to treat painful areas of muscle that contain “trigger points,” or knots that form in the muscles when they aren’t able to relax. Many times, such knots can be felt under the skin. Trigger points often cause pain by irritating the nerves around them, but can also cause pain to occur in another part of the body.
Epidural Steroid Injections
An epidural steroid injection is a common procedure to treat spinal nerve irritation caused by tissues pressing against nerves. An epidural steroid injection involves bathing an inflamed nerve root in steroids (potent anti-inflammation medicine) in order to decrease the irritation of the nerve root that is causing pain.
During an epidural steroid injection, a needle and syringe is used to enter the epidural space (the area between the membrane and the vertebral wall) and deposit small amounts of the medicine around the inflamed spinal nerve. A fluoroscope (a viewing instrument using X-rays) is used to visualize the local anatomy during the injection. The epidural steroid injection specifically targets the inflamed area and treats it with a maximal amount of steroids, thereby minimizing exposure of the rest of the body to the steroids.
Are There any Side Effects?
Side effects can vary depending on the medication being used as well as the patient. It’s common for the injection site to be slightly inflamed immediately after the treatment, but this is temporary. Additionally, patients may experience insomnia or a spike in blood sugar and/or blood pressure.