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DocTalk: Injections to Help Manage Low Back Pain

senior white man bent over in pain because of back pain with grimace on face

Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the U.S. and is the leading cause of job-related disability. It affects nearly 80% of adults at some point in their lifetime.

20% of those experiencing acute pain, defined as lasting a few days to a few weeks, will develop chronic pain within one year. The first onset of back pain typically occurs between 30-50 years of age, with occurrences increasing with age. Common causes are muscle strains, arthritis, disc disease and skeletal irregularities. Age, fitness level, weight gain, occupational hazards, trauma and pregnancy are all factors that can contribute to a risk of developing low back and/or radiating leg pain.

This type of pain, caused by inflammation around the nerves in the low back, can be temporarily relieved by lumbar epidural steroid injections. The steroid acts as an anti-inflammatory to resolve swelling around the affected nerves. Pain relief is typically felt within 24-48 hours and lasts anywhere from a few days to several months. An individual can have a repeat injection as soon as two weeks, but a maximum of three injections within six months.

These injections are performed in Newton Medical Center’s Imaging department. The procedure takes approximately 15 minutes, and you can resume normal daily activities afterward. One consideration is that patients must be off prescription blood thinners for five days prior to the injection and may resume the medication the following day. A physician’s order is needed for all pain management injections. To schedule an appointment or for assistance obtaining a physician’s order, call the Imaging department at 316-804-6170.

Dr. Hall is a board-certified radiologist and oversees pain management injections at NMC.

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