“My low back is killing me!!” Sound familiar? Have you said these exact words recently? Studies show that nearly 80% of all Americans will have low back pain at some point in their life. Sometimes you know exactly why you have the pain such as lifting something heavy or years of heavy lifting at work. Sometimes it is difficult to pin point an actual event that caused the pain. Either way, back pain can be miserable and can drastically decrease function and ability to perform day to day tasks.
Low back pain that doesn’t radiate down the leg is often referred to as AXIAL back pain. This is the most common complaint made by patients with arthritis also known as degenerative disc disease. Most patients with this common condition will not need surgery and pain can be reduced by a series of injections. To start Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks are done. These are a series of 8 total injections, 4 on each side of the spine. These injections stop the transmission of pain signals from the facet joint (joints in the spine that allow for movement). Following the injections, you will be given a pain diary to document the relief that is obtained. Since these are diagnostic injections, they are not expected to provide lasting relief. The information that they do provide is what level of relief is obtained with temporarily blocking the transmission of pain from the facet joint. If the relief is substantial, the provider may suggest proceeding with Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA). RFA uses radiofrequency energy to disrupt pain function. When this is done, the nerve can no longer transmit pain from the arthritic facet joint. Most people receive relief lasting between 6 months to a year, some patients even report relief lasting longer than a year from this procedure.
These injections are all done under sedation. You will have an IV placed and receive medication that will allow for comfort during the procedure. You will finish your procedure in our recovery area and will be able to go home generally after being monitored for approximately 30 minutes.
If you have back pain that is limiting your function and enjoyment of life, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at NovaSpine Pain Institute for a complete evaluation of the options available to you. Relief from your aching back could be just an injection away.