Image-guided spinal injections
Some causes of back pain can be treated by injecting medications into different parts of the spine; these are known as spinal injections.
Spinal injections are a highly technical procedure and must be performed by an experienced specialist surgeon under the guidance of X-ray imaging. The angiography suite at The London Clinic provides superb resolution which contributes to both the safety and efficacy of these injections.
There are two main types of spinal injections:
Facial joint injections
These go into the joints around the spine and contain both a local anaesthetic to provide pain relief and a steroid to reduce inflammation in the area.
This involves injecting directly into the root of the nerve that is causing the pain in order to block the pain signals.
Sometimes these injections need repeating, but most people will experience the benefit after one to three injections.
Spinal injections have been shown to greatly improve back pain in people with uncontrolled symptoms who wish to avoid surgery, or who are not suitable for surgery.
Why choose The London Clinic
Excellence in one place
We operate as teams of experts with world-class resources dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of medical care. You are surrounded by the latest treatments and advice with everything you need to get back to your best health.
Personal care, every time
Exceptional patient care is a way of life for us. Our nurses, clinicians and support teams are dedicated to the care of a very small number of patients, so have more time for you. They’ll be with you every step of the way, tailoring your care around you and giving the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing you’re in the best hands.
We work together as one to guide you through each step of your experience, with complexities unravelled and answers readily to hand. Your personal treatment plan will be laid out for you, with all the details taken care of so you can focus on you.
The main causes of back pain that can be treated with spinal injections include:
- General wear and tear or degeneration
- Disc prolapse (‘slipped disc’)
- sSinal stenosis (narrowing of the spaces within the spine).
Spinal injections are usually performed under a local anaesthetic. The patient will be awake, but offered sedation that can help them to relax and reduce any anxiety.
This is generally a very safe procedure, however there are some risks to consider prior to having spinal injections. These include:
- Excessive bleeding or bruising around the injection site
- Headaches that can arise if the epidural needle punctures a bit deeper than it should and spinal fluid leaks through the puncture site. This headache may need to be treated with bed rest, or with a blood patch (where blood from a vein is injected into the puncture site to block the hole)
- Injury to a spinal nerve may also occur
- Pain around the treated area
- An allergic reaction to either the local anaesthetic or the injection
- The need for further injections.
Sometimes people can also get some general side effects related to the steroids in the injection.
These can include hot flushes, nausea, mild abdominal pain and fluid retention. As the steroids are injected into one small area, these side effects are both uncommon and should not last for more than a few days.
Our specialist experts, anaesthetists and their teams are very experienced and will do their best to minimise any risks. They will discuss all the risks and benefits before surgery and be on hand to answer any questions.
Following surgery, if any unexpected symptoms are experienced, or problems persist or worsen, then patients are advised to make contact immediately with their specialist teams.
The patient will be taken to their recovery suite, then either to a discharge lounge or a ward if they need to stay in hospital overnight.
Overnight stays tend to be for patients who have complex medical problems and need an extended period of monitoring or if there are any rare and unexpected complications during the surgery.
During their recovery, patients will be closely monitored by our expert team of healthcare staff at The London Clinic.
It is important that painkillers are taken as instructed by the specialist team and that walking and bladder and bowel control, are closely monitored.
Once the patient is feeling well enough and has passed urine, it is considered safe for them to go home.
The injection site should be kept clean and dry for at least 24 hours, and most people can return to work and normal daily activities after 72 hours.
If the pain does not settle four to six weeks after the injection, or there are any further problems, patients are advised to see their GP or contact their specialist team.
Radiofrequency denervation is a specialised injection that uses heat to reduce or stop pain being transmitted by the target nerve.
During this procedure, a needle is passed into one of the joints in the spine under image guidance.
Heat then runs through the tip of the needle to the target nerve.
Like other spinal injections, this is a technical procedure requiring the experienced hands of an expert specialist.
Radiofrequency denervation can be used to treat several causes of back pain.
Pain that arises from the very small joints of the spine (facet joint) or the larger joints (sacro-iliac joints) is transmitted through some very fine nerves.
Radiofrequency denervation is a procedure which creates heat lesions at the nerves of the joints and not the joints themselves.
This stops the nerves from transmitting pain and this may help reduce symptoms for longer than spinal injections with local anaesthetic and steroid.
It is a useful procedure for those who are still experiencing debilitating symptoms despite painkillers and physiotherapy, but do not wish to undergo surgery.
Similar to other spinal injections, radiofrequency denervation is a generally safe procedure performed under a local anaesthetic.
Common side effects can include:
- Pain following the procedure caused by soreness/bruising at the injection site
- A short-term increase in the pain that can last for up to 10 days.
Rarer side effects are:
- Haematoma - a collection of blood under the wound, causing a swelling or infection at the site
- Allergic reactions to medications used throughout the procedure
- Nerve injury causing tingling or numbness
- Worsening pain.
Extremely rare side effects:
- Temporary or disabling nerve damage
- Convulsions (fits)
- Cardiac arrest (when the heart stops).
It is important to remember that our expert specialists in pain management and spinal injections are very experienced.
They work alongside a multidisciplinary team to ensure comfort and safety are top priorities.
Radiofrequency denervation has been shown to have comparable results to other spinal injections.
This procedure has also shown good results in the short term, with up to three out of four patients experiencing significant improvement in their symptoms in the weeks following their injection.
This number falls to only 22% of patients experiencing symptom relief one year after their injection.
This shows that radiofrequency denervation is an effective strategy for managing back pain in the short-to-medium term.
However, repeated injections or alternative treatments may be required for long-term pain control.
What's included in your package?
Choosing The London Clinic means your treatment plan will be laid out for you, with all the details taken care of so you can focus on you.
Your treatment package will include:
- Enhanced pre-admission assessment
- Your treatment with our complete care team at your fingertips
- Personalised aftercare and follow-up
We want you to be in control of your health. That’s why we also offer optional services such as comprehensive recovery packages and extra touches for you to choose from during your stay with us.
How to pay
- You can use private medical insurance (PMI) to access this treatment. We work with all major PMI providers in the UK and many internationally
- You can pay for yourself (self-pay)
- If you’re paying for yourself, we have finance options available with Chrysalis