Intradiscal injections are used both as a diagnostic tool and treatment option for chronic lower back pain. When used for diagnosis, your doctor may inject a dye into a suspicious disc – one of the gel-filled cushions that separate the vertebrae in your spine. The dye, combined with advanced imaging, will help your doctor determine the cause of your pain. If warranted, your doctor may treat the damaged disc by injecting a steroid medication to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
The procedure is designed for patients whose chronic lower back pain has no known cause, or whose pain has been traced to a troublesome disc.
Are There Different Approaches to This Treatment?
The procedure, which takes one to two hours, can vary slightly, based on whether the goal is diagnosis or treatment. If used as a treatment, the procedure generally takes longer.
This minimally invasive procedure is done in an outpatient setting, and you should expect to go home the same day. Pain relief generally kicks in two or three days after the injection, with maximum benefit after one or two weeks. Some patients experience no pain relief, while others may find long-term benefits.
During the short recovery period, you’ll be asked not to exert yourself during the first day and to avoid soaking in a tub for 24 hours. Initial discomfort may be aided by applying icepacks several times a day.