Living with pain is difficult. Whether it is acute or chronic, pain of any kind can leave its mark on your quality of life. Thankfully, modern medicine has provided many ways to relieve pain from acute injuries, chronic conditions, and everything in between. In this article we will take a look at pain injections–a treatment option at UVA that can treat pain in a variety of forms.
Reviewed by Nick Nacey, MD and Jenni Pierce, MD
Living with and Treating Pain
Pain has a way of affecting our lives dramatically. Whether pain makes it harder to do your favorite activities or keeps you from leaving the house (or maybe even the room), pain has a way of seeping into every cranny of our daily lives.
The pain patients experience generally falls into two different categories: acute and chronic.
Acute pain is pain that has come on suddenly. It is usually the result of trauma, injury, recent surgery, or other similar experience. Acute pain usually lasts for less than 6 months and is characteristically relieved when the cause of the pain is treated, like when a broken bone is properly set and then healed.
Chronic pain is pain that has come on gradually, but persists from day-to-day. Chronic pain comes from conditions that are difficult to diagnose and treat, or from conditions that take a long time to reverse. Some examples of chronic pain include back pain, headache, arthritis, and pain related to conditions like cancer.
A pain injection at UVA is a way to treat both of these types of pain, particularly patients with chronic pain. Pain injections provide temporary relief from the pain and can give damaged areas time to heal.
Explaining Pain Injections
Pain injections can refer to any number of specific medications used in these type of procedures. The specific medication used will vary based on your condition and your doctor’s assessment. Most injections consist of a local anesthetic to decrease pain temporarily for several hours, as well as a steroid medication to decrease inflammation and decrease pain over the longer term for several months.
In the UVA radiology department, doctors use fluoroscopy and ultrasound imaging to maneuver the needle to perform the injection with precision. Fluoroscopy is like x-ray video equipment and ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation to produce an image. In certain cases, a CT scan may be used.
Some common pain management injections performed by UVA’s radiologists include:
Patients typically experience immediate relief from pain after the injection, with this relief lasting for weeks to months after the procedure. Pain injection treatment will vary from patient to patient. Some patients may have several rounds of injections before they experience long-term relief. Other patients may not be as helped by the injections and will have to explore other avenues of treatment.
Walking Through A Typical Pain Injection Procedure
At UVA Radiology and Medical Imaging, a pain injection procedure is usually done as an outpatient procedure.
At the start of the procedure, a radiologist will look at the area receiving the injection using fluoroscopy or ultrasound. The skin at the injection point will be cleaned and numbed using a local anesthetic. With imaging guidance, the needle will then be put into position and the steroid will be injected. Yes-That’s it!
After, the needle is removed and the puncture from the injection is bandaged. A nurse will stay with you for 10 minutes after the injection to obtain a post-procedure pain rating. You will be asked not to submerge the area in water for 24 hours after the injection and your physician will give you specific instructions about how to return to your normal routine.
Pain injections are able to provide short-term pain relief and in some cases, facilitate long-term relief from pain. Your physician just needs to simply place an order or write a prescription before you can schedule a consultation for getting a pain injection at the UVA Health System.
Contact your physician today and find out if you’re eligible for injections to manage your pain at UVA Radiology and Medical Imaging: contact us today at 434-243-5676.