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What Is a Spine Injection?

Our radiologists perform image-guided spine injections. Radiologists who offer spine injections are specially trained doctors who specialize in using imaging to diagnose and treat problems related to bones, joints and soft tissue. Using fluoroscopy or CT imaging, one of our radiologists will guide a needle to the correct spot in your body and inject anti-inflammatory steroid and anesthetic to reduce the swelling that may be causing your pain.

A spine injection typically takes about 20 minutes.

How to Prepare for a Spine Injection

  • Screening - Before your appointment, we will call you to screen you for anything that may interfere with the procedure, such as blood thinners, allergies to IV contrast, diabetes and any current infections.
  • Images - Please plan to bring the most recent MRI or CT scans of your spine to the procedure.
  • Eating and Drinking - You can eat and drink and continue your usual medicines (except for blood thinners) before your spine injection.
  • Medications - If you are taking a blood thinner, ask your doctor if it is safe to stop before your procedure. If you are taking antibiotics for an active infection or have stopped antibiotics within 10 days of your appointment, please call us at 617-726-6773 to reschedule. Let our staff know if you take long-term antibiotics without an active infection. If your symptoms are mild, avoid taking pain medication before your appointment.
  • When to Arrive - Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to check in.
  • Risks - An image-guided spine injection is very safe, but small risks include bleeding or infection. You could also have an allergic reaction to the injected medicine. After the injection, you may feel leg numbness or weakness. This is normal and temporary. There is also a small risk of spinal headache if the injection gets too close to the sac of water surrounding the spinal nerve roots. Please let us know about any risks that concern you at the time of your appointment. 

What to Expect After a Spine Injection

After the minimally invasive, image-guided therapy, you will receive discharge instructions. Most people can leave the hospital right away.

For your safety, someone should drive you home after the procedure. If you must drive, we may need to monitor you for 30 to 60 minutes before you can leave. You should take it easy for the rest of the day. For 5 to 7 days, avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activities. If you are unsure of any activities, check with your doctor.