Injections can be part of a treatment plan to relieve pain. They relieve pain by stopping nerves from sending pain signals to the brain or by reducing painful inflammation and swelling.
In general, injections work best when pain is confined to a certain area of the body, e.g. the lower back, neck. Most injections will consist of either a local anaesthetic, a steroid (cortisone) or a combination of both. On occasion a successful steroid injection can be followed up by radiofrequency lesion which aims to provide longer term relief.
Conditions which may be helped by injections
Injections do not offer a ‘cure’. They will usually provide temporary pain relief. This period of relief can be used to continue with other treatments such as physiotherapy or to get back to regular exercise which can in turn lead to a long-term improvement.
A steroid (cortisone) is a medicine reducing inflammation and swelling. It can reduce pain caused by these mechanisms, e.g. in inflamed joints and their capsules or swollen connective tissue irritating nerves passing through. And it can prolong the effect of a local anaesthetic injected to block nerves. The effect can sometimes take days to weeks to materialise and will usually last for several months. Most of the substance will stay at the site of injection and is not absorbed into the rest of the body. Therefore, there are hardly any of the side effects feared from steroid tablets.