If you are experiencing debilitating or recurring back or neck pain – or referred pain elsewhere in the body – an experienced spinal surgeon can consult with you about your options for pain management. Many patients opt to receive transforaminal injections due to the low-risk, quick-acting pain relief and long-lasting effects.
What is a Transforaminal Injection
A transforaminal injection involves injecting a long-acting steroid medicine, along with a local anesthetic, into the so-called sleeve, or epidural space, located just outside the spinal cord canal. This method of treatment for back, neck, and other pain works by reducing inflammation in and around the tissues of the spinal nerve root.
While a transforaminal injection is not usually a permanent treatment option, the effects can last for several months for some patients, often as many as six months. Many patients experience immediate relief of their pain symptoms, due to the anesthetic that is injected. As the anesthetic wears off, the steroid medicine begins to take effect over the next one to three days.
Number of Injections
Because many patients find that their transforaminal injection lasts for six months, spinal surgeons typically do not recommend more than three injections within a six-month period. If two or three injections have not been effective, additional treatments are not likely recommended.
The Right Solution
Some patients tend to do better than others when it comes to their response to transforaminal injections, though not even the most experienced spinal surgeon can predict just who will benefit most from the treatment, and which patients may ultimately not experience the expected symptom-relief. Some of the patients who respond best to transforaminal injections include:
- Patients whose pain has radiated from their back or neck to their arms or legs
- Patients who seek treatment sooner rather than later
- Patients seeking to determine which spinal nerve root is most likely causing the pain
When to Avoid This Treatment
Not every patient is going to be an ideal candidate for every treatment option. Still, an experienced spinal surgeon can evaluate a patient’s symptoms and history and determine how to proceed on a case-by-case basis. Certain factors increase the risks for complications though and may be contraindicated with transforaminal injections, though.
For this reason, it is crucial that patients disclose all of their relevant health history to their spinal surgeon. Some factors may make transforaminal injections inappropriate under the circumstances for certain patients, such as:
- Patients who have had a prior bad reaction to a steroid medication
- Patients on blood thinners
- Certain diabetic patients, especially if the diabetes is severe or uncontrolled
- Patients with current infections, nerve pain, or severe headaches
Consulting a Spinal Surgeon
Transforaminal injections have helped many patients reclaim their lives from previously debilitating back, neck and spinal pain. This treatment method is not recommended for every patient with pain, however.
Your experienced spinal surgeon can review your medical records and health history and determine whether transforaminal injections may be a worthwhile treatment option for you.