I think this is one of the bigger topics you will read on our forums. There are many different types of spinal injections, but for the purpose of this discussion, I want to focus on Epidural Spinal Injections (ESI)
To begin with, the ESI is not intended to be the cure for your spinal problems. What the major objective is , is to reduce the inflammation in the area that the injection is targeted for. By doing this, there should always be a decrease in your pain levels. But if you follow our forums, I would say that there is about a 50-50 success rate in terms of ESIs. Some people find that they get some immediate and short/long term relief, while others do not experience any benefits.
When you look into the details of these injections, you have to wonder why there isnt a better positive rate?
But one thing that keeps cropping up on the forums are those folks that have intense pain after these injections. It is always normal to have some discomfort for the first 24-48 hours after the injection. The injection site may be sore and ice can help reduce some of the discomfort. But there should never be intense or more pain after these injections... IF they were adminstered correctly and if the procedure did not have any mishaps.
I say that, because I was a victim of poorly adminstered ESI and had to deal with a unnecessary discomfort. The biggest problem about doing ESI's is that they are not being done using the proper x-ray or fluoroscopic aids. This allows the doctor to ensure that the injection is being done to the exact location and not hitting any nerves. The problem I had and many others may have experienced is when the needle hits a nerve root!. That will cause a lot of pain for a while.
It is so important that whoever does these ESIs, that they do it in a proper manner. It should be in an operating like room environment, vitals taken, more than one person involved, and the guidance devices should always be present and used.. Some people who are naturally afraid of needles, may ask for some sedation. But in reality, the ESIs should be nothing more than a bee sting. They first will freeze the area, then inject some lidocaine to numb the area (just like dentist do) Then with the aid of the x-ray device the steroid injection is given.
The entire procedure should take no longer than 15 minutes. Then you are brought to a recovery like room to rest for about 15 minutes They will take your vitals again and assuming it all looks good, you will be release. 99.9% of the doctors that do this procedure will insist that you have a driver , so that you do not attempt to drive yourself.
So, when you read new posts talking about the intense pain they were in after an ESI, you have to step back and think about how it was done.
For formal documentation, please read All about Epidural Spinal Injections and other injections