Relieve Your Back Pain and New Pain

Spine Pain Relief Procedures

When back pain patients are not candidates for surgery, less-invasive procedures can help relieve pain and avoid opioid use. Penn Health back doctors now offer several procedures to help relieve the suffering caused by chronic back pain and neck pain. In addition to traditional steroid injections, Penn Highlands spine neurosurgeons offer two procedures that stop nerves from transmitting pain signals to the brain.

Epidural Injections for Spine Pain

Back doctors often will recommend steroid injections to relieve lower back pain or pain that extends into the legs (sciatica). Although less common, your back doctor also may recommend steroid injections to relieve your neck pain.

For lower back pain and sciatica or neck pain, the surgeon will inject a steroidal medication (such as cortisone) into the epidural space around the spine that is inflamed. This procedure is also called an epidural steroid injection.

Steroids are not a pain-killing medication. Instead, steroids such as cortisone suppresses inflammation and calms nerves, indirectly reducing pain. The steroids don’t actually heal the underlying problem triggering the inflammation, but they can provide relief for many patients for months or even up to a year. This relief can provide an opportunity for you to then engage in rehabilitation to help strengthen and stretch your back or neck.

Ablation to Stop Back Pain

Radiofrequency ablation, also called rhizotomy, is a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat to destroy nerve endings that are transmitting pain signals to the brain. Pain can be relieved permanently in some cases.

This procedure is most commonly used to treat chronic pain and conditions such as arthritis of the spine (spondylosis) and sacroiliitis. It is also used to treat neck, back, knee, pelvic, and peripheral nerve pain. It can be used with patients who have experienced pain relief from nerve block injections in the past.

After ablation to treat lower back pain or neck pain, patients can typically return to work within 72 hours. You will most likely experience pain relief within 10-14 days. Ablation successfully relieves pain for up to two years in 70-80 percent of patients and can be repeated if the nerve endings grow back.

Spinal Cord Stimulation Blocks Back Pain

Spinal cord stimulation can block pain signals from reaching the brain by sending mild electrical pulses to the spinal cord. The device is like a pacemaker for the back, with a battery-powered computer that’s connected to thin wires (leads) that deliver the electricity. The newest spinal cord stimulators relieve pain better, and without the uncomfortable tingling of earlier stimulators.

Patients can “try out” the device for five to seven days before having it surgically implanted. For the trial, your spine surgeon places the leads in your spine through a needle and connects an external generator to deliver the electrical pulses. He will monitor your response and adjust the programming to provide you with maximum pain relief from your back pain. At the end of the trial, if you decide to proceed, your back doctor will implant the device near your spine during a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. With the implanted device, you will be able to participate in nearly any activity.

Spinal cord stimulation is particularly effective for diabetic neuropathy. While diabetic neuropathy commonly causes pain in the toes, feet, legs, and hands, pain signals travel through the spine where this technology cuts them off from continuing to the brain.

Services We Provide

View More