What Are the Different Types of Spinal Injections?

Marisa O'Connor

There are a few different types of spinal injections that are used for a variety of therapeutic and diagnostic purposes. An epidural steroid injection is one of the most commonly administered types of injections, used therapeutically to treat spinal pain. Hardware injections, SI joint injections, and facet joint injections are performed as diagnostic injections, to determine where the pain is coming from. If the pain is coming from hardware, SI or facet joints, then cortisone may be administered therapeutically to lessen inflammation and ease pain.

A type of spinal injection, an epidural can numb parts of the body from pain, such as during labor or surgery.
A type of spinal injection, an epidural can numb parts of the body from pain, such as during labor or surgery.

One of the different types of spinal injections is called an epidural steroid injection. The epidural steroid injection is performed in the epidural space, which is the space between the protective covering of the spinal cord, and the bone of the spine. This space runs the entire length of the spine and is ideal for injection, because medication can move freely up and down the spine. There are three different locations to place the epidural injection, which include the caudal block, transforaminal, and translumbar. These areas are distinguished by the nerve roots they are closest to.

In some cases, a doctor may administer a small amount of sedative through an intravenous line in addition to performing a caudal block.
In some cases, a doctor may administer a small amount of sedative through an intravenous line in addition to performing a caudal block.

A hardware injection is another one of the different types of spinal injections. The hardware injection involves injecting lidocaine near hardware in the spine, placed there during surgery. This is a type of diagnostic injection, used to determine whether or not hardware in the spine is a source of pain.

Patients with a history of heart problems should not receive a lidocaine injection.
Patients with a history of heart problems should not receive a lidocaine injection.

Another of the different types of spinal injections include SI joint injections. This is another type of diagnostic injection, used to determine whether or not the source of pain is coming from the sacroiliac (SI) joint. The SI joint is located at the base of the spine, between the sacrum and pelvic bones. If this injection determines that this joint is the source of pain, cortisone may be injected for pain relief.

Spinal injections can be used to relieve or block pain in the back or lower body.
Spinal injections can be used to relieve or block pain in the back or lower body.

A facet joint injection is also among the different types of spinal injections. This type of injection is used to treat pain associated with dysfunction of the facet joints. These joints are what separate the vertebrae, and are primarily responsible for spinal flexibility. This injection is used as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool, to confirm that the pain is caused by these joints, and to ease the pain caused by joint degeneration. The facet joint injection is considered a nerve block, because it blocks small nerves connecting to the joints in order to determine which joint is responsible for the pain.

Injections can determine if the source of pain is coming from the SI joint, which is located at the base of the spine.
Injections can determine if the source of pain is coming from the SI joint, which is located at the base of the spine.
The epidural space, where some injections are made, is between the protective covering of the spinal cord and the bone of the spine.
The epidural space, where some injections are made, is between the protective covering of the spinal cord and the bone of the spine.
Epidurals may be given to alleviate back pain.
Epidurals may be given to alleviate back pain.

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