A disc injection is used for relieving low back pain associated with discogenic pain from degenerative disc disease and other disc disorders. The medication most often used a corticosteroid, which decreases disc inflammation and offers immediate pain relief.
Disc injections are indicated for anyone who has back pain related to degenerative disc disease. Intervertebral discs lose flexibility and fluid content from wear-and-tear or injury, and this can cause pressure on nerves and back pain. Disc injections minimize the pain by reducing inflammation and stopping the nerves from transferring pain signals to the brain.
Intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers. The outer portion is referred to as the annulus fibrosus, and the inner portion is made of a jelly-like center (nucleus pulposus).
Before the disc injection procedure, a nurse will go over the risks and benefits with you and have you sign an informed consent form. The nurse will place an IV catheter in your arm to administer precautionary antibiotics and a mild sedative. You should bring someone to drive you home after the procedure.
The patient is positioned on his/her stomach, and the injection site is cleansed with a mild antiseptic. To elevate the back, a pillow is placed under the abdomen. The doctor uses a tiny needle to numb the skin, and then inserts a needle into the disc, using x-ray guidance. Once position is established, the doctor injects the disc with a corticosteroid, and possibly, and anesthetic agent. After the injection, the site is covered with a bandage.
The disc injection may also be performed with stem cell therapy, such as with bone marrow or amniotic derived stem cells. There are initial studies showing it works exceptionally well!
After the procedure, the patient is monitored for around 30 minutes. When the anesthetic wears off, mild discomfort at the injection site is expected. You should take it easy for a day or two, and avoid soaking in a tub or swimming for a few days.
A disc injection is a safe procedure, but there are several risks involved. There is a chance of injury if an injection is not administered by an experienced doctor. The risks include infection, bleeding, increased pain, damage to a nerve, and blood vessel injury.
The bone marrow produces mesenchymal cells, which are often called stem cells. These cells can assist the body’s tissue to regenerate and rebuild themselves. There is limited blood flow to the disc, so delivering stem cells via an intradiscal injection is an option. To inject the disc, the doctor must obtain bone marrow from the hip bone first, and then inject it into the disc. Studies show that injection of stem cells improve maintenance of intradiscal water content and height.
Disc regenerative therapy is one treatment options for chronic back pain related to disc problems. With this procedure, the doctor injects a dextrose and glucosamine solution into the disc. This treatment promotes healing of injured discs by stimulating collagen fibers and increasing disc strength.
According to a clinical study, a single injection of stem cells into a degenerative disc will reduce low back pain for around 12 months. Researchers report that patients have more than 50% reduction in pain following stem cell injections.