Highly Effective Injections for Treating Neck Pain

Living with neck pain can become a chronic condition, making it vital for patients to seek care as soon as possible. More research now supports using several different injections directly at the site of pain. From epidural steroid injections to trigger-point injections, those living with chronic neck pain now have more treatment options in addition to regular medical treatment. Here are some of the most effective injections that can provide much-needed relief for those living with chronic neck pain.

Cervical Epidural Steroid Injections (ESIs)

The first line of defense many providers use to treat chronic neck pain is cervical epidural steroid injections or ESIs. Most people might only associate epidural injections with pain relief during child labor.

However, the word “epidural” isn’t referring to the medication itself. It refers to the epidural space that surrounds the spinal cord and nerves, which most commonly impacts people suffering from chronic neck pain. One of the most common conditions that might lead to inflammation and irritation of the nerves around the epidural space is cervical radiculopathy, also known as a pinched nerve.

Other types of issues that can lead to inflammation around the neck include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Herniated Disc
  • Bulging Disc
  • Poor posture
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Chronic stress

Will ESIs Work for Neck Pain?

If any of these issues are the underlying cause of your neck pain, you might be a good candidate for ESIs. ESIs are, in essence, steroid shots that help reduce inflammation surrounding the nerve in the epidural space.

These ESIs are injected directly into the epidural space, targeting the area of inflammation directly. This is also why they are known as “nerve-targeting injections.” Although they don’t target the nerve directly, they do impact the amount of pressure (and therefore pain) put on the nerve.

ESI treatment for neck pain is one of the most effective and conservative methods, with a success rate varying greatly between 40% and 84%. That number can, of course, vary based on the underlying causes of inflammation and pain, whether someone is receiving additional physical therapy, and the overall body makeup of that person.

In addition, new research on ESI effectiveness shows that some people, such as those who are highly sensitive to touch, or those who have completed underlying pain, might not experience a significant change in pain after ESI treatment. These people will need additional treatment. Fortunately, new screenings might help determine if ESI is right for you.

Trigger Point Injections

If you’ve ever had a knot in your neck or shoulders, you’ve suffered from a condition known as myofascial pain. This type of pain is caused by trigger points in your muscles. These trigger points are areas where the muscle has been so overused or damaged, that it is now contracted together.

It can be tough to break apart this connected muscle tissue, especially without direct treatment. That’s where trigger point injections come in. These injections target these trigger points, helping to break up the tissue and providing relief for neck pain and radiating pain.

There are various types of trigger point injections including:

  • Local anesthetic with or without a corticosteroid
  • Local anesthetic with botulinum toxin (aka Botox)
  • Injection without any substance, known as dry needling

While these trigger point injections can be done easily in an outpatient setting, they are most effective when combined with stretching exercises and physical therapy. These other treatments also help prevent the muscles in the neck from becoming contracted again, and breaking them apart naturally.

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

Radiofrequency Ablation, or RFA, is one of the most unique and effective treatments for chronic neck pain. When all other treatment methods have been unsuccessful, providers usually turn to RFAs for help.

An ablation is a process that is usually used for treating irregular heart rhythms. This process involves burning away abnormal tissue that leads to irregular beats. Similarly, RFAs target nerves surrounding the neck and other areas of the body. The goal is to burn these nerves to prevent pain signals from being transmitted to the brain.

To do this, a thin needle is inserted directly into the area surrounding the affected nerve. Radiofrequency current is then sent through the needle to heat the area, killing the nerve in the process.

Not everyone is a suitable candidate for RFA. To determine who will experience relief from RFA, a provider first conducts a medial branch block. This means that they inject a local anesthetic into the suspected nerve causing pain. If someone experiences relief, this is a good sign that a full ablation will work.

Exploring Neck Pain Relief Options

Whether you have chronic neck pain or are recovering from an injury, there are many options available to help alleviate your discomfort. These injections only scratch the surface of the types of treatment that can work for you. Working alongside your provider and taking advantage of the latest and most effective breakthroughs in pain management can provide long-lasting relief, even for those who have been living with neck pain for years. Consider exploring neck pain injections next time you meet with your provider, and be sure to ask about other potential options that may work for you.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 13, 2024

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