If medicines do not relieve pain sufficiently or have side effects, and if your pain is not widespread, then injection treatment may be appropriate. Targeted injections like epidurals, joint or muscular injections can have a profound pain relieving during acute pain attacks or flare-up periods.
Pain relief injections are targeted under X-ray or ultrasound guidance to structures (such as particular joints or disks for example) that show up as changed in X-ray scans or numb nerves that transmit painful sensations.
When to consider pain relief injections
- if you have an acute, disabling pain flare-up not responding to pain killers
- if other treatments didn't help sufficiently
- if your pain is limited to one or two body regions (not widespread pain)
- if you cannot tolerate side effects of long-term pain killers
- if you need pain relief in order to engage in physiotherapy or rehabilitation
- if you need extra pain relief for travel, return to work or other important events
For how long do injections work?
The effect from local anaesthetic and cortisone injections tends to last for a few months, with a range from just days to more than year.
The effect from RF ('nerve burning') procedures usually lasts longer, typically 6-12 months.
Procedures can be repeated if they have been successful. A limiting factor can be a decreasing effect over time. You may also want to avoid becoming dependent on repeat injections, so they should be performed judiciously.
Public funding for injection treatment
These decisions have usually been made without or against the advice of pain specialists.
As a consequence, some injections are only funded once (despite a known temporary effect) or only if a number of criteria are met.
As a consequence you may not be able to have these procedures funded as NHS treatment despite pain specialist recommendation.
To find out more, please contact your local Commissioning Group (CCG). For the Island, follow this link.
If not available as NHS treatment many pain relief injections are available as private treatments.
Numbing Injections with Local Anaesthetic and Cortisone
Diagnostic injections work by numbing (with local anaesthetic) and reducing inflammation and irritation (with cortisone). The relief can be profound but is often time limited. It is important to understand that injections are not a lasting cure.
RF (radiofrequency) procedures ('nerve burning')
If diagnostic injections are temporarily successful then RF procedures can be performed to disable transmitting nerves for longer periods with targeted stimulation (pulsed RF) or heat (conventional RF).
Do pain relief injections have risks and side effects?
Serious complications are rare. The most common problem is initial soreness and short-term numbness or weakness from the local anaesthetic. Risks and side effects will be explained in detail and you will receive detailed printed information at your appointment
Injections and procedures we offer
- Epidural injections
- Spinal nerve root blocks
- Spinal facet joint injections
- Joint injections (hip, knee, sacro-iliac joints)
- Suprascapular nerve blocks
- Scar infiltrations
- Trigger point injections with cortisone or Botox
- Conventional radiofrequency procedures
- Pulsed radiofrequency procedures