Real Patient Stories of Getting Relief From Therapeutic Pain Injections
Pain can get in the way of everything you love to do. Just ask Amy Allen Fodrill. Her back pain made daily living difficult, but things got really bad at night when she’d lay down and her back would hurt even more. “It became a daily problem that would kind of infiltrate everything that I did from work, chores at home, even just leisure activities,” explains Amy. “It was pretty constant and pretty much all I could think about. It made me feel pretty rotten all over.”
Can you relate? It’s estimated that as many as 40% of American adults suffer from chronic pain and it is one of the most common reasons adults seek medical care according to the CDC. Jennifer Wurscher is one of the 40%. One March morning, out of the blue, she woke up in so much pain she couldn’t turn her head. It was hard to even get dressed. Jennifer had no idea what caused the pain, but she knew she couldn’t live like that.
How Do Therapeutic Pain Injections Work?
When you come to CDI for a therapeutic pain injection appointment, you’ll be positioned on the table so the doctor has the most direct access to your body part that’s giving you pain. So, in both Amy and Jennifer’s cases, they were positioned face-down on their bellies.
The first thing that will happen is that we’ll numb the area. You can expect to feel a little pinch. Neuroradiologist Sharad Chopra, MD describes it like the feeling of getting blood drawn. “It burns for a few seconds. That’s actually the numbing medicine kicking in, and once we’ve done that, then we give you some deeper numbing medicine. So, again, a little pressure, a little burning for a few seconds. Then after that, what people typically feel is kind of like if I’m pushing on them with my finger.”
Next, we use X-ray image guidance to place the needle in the precise spot where the steroid can go to work. Once the needle is in place, your doctor might inject some contrast material which helps highlight the area. And the last step is injecting cortisone to reduce the inflammation and then to remove the needle.
Your doctor will explain each step of the procedure, so you know exactly what’s coming next. “They told me it was going to be painful,” recalls Jennifer, “But I was actually surprised at how little pain it was. It wasn’t at all what I was imagining.”
How Soon Can You Expect Relief?
Some people feel slightly worse after their appointment. Dr. Chopra calls that a steroid flare. That’s the time between your injection and when the steroid actually kicks in to start reducing the inflammation. Amy says her pain symptoms actually got worse in the first 24 hours. “And I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, what have I done? I’ve made this worse!’”
But, over the coming weeks, Amy’s symptoms improved. “By three weeks I had considerable lessening of that pain and I was down from maybe a pain level of seven or eight to a three or four.” She returned to CDI for two more therapeutic pain injections and says she wouldn’t hesitate to go back for another if she needed it.
Will You Need More Than One Injection?
For Jennifer, the neck pain resurfaced after about 3 weeks. Though, she says getting a second injection was a lot less stress-inducing than the first time around. “Once I had done it the first time, I said, ‘Well, no problem. I’ll do this again.’” She knew the relief was real and after her second injection, the symptoms did not return.
How long will it last for you? Dr. Chopra says every patient is unique. “The longest I’ve seen a single injection last for somebody who came back to me and asked me to do it again, was eight years. The shortest is no relief at all because sometimes it takes more than one injection. And sometimes they don’t work for some people.”
Are Pain Injections Right For You?
You might be a good candidate for pain injections if your pain is getting worse, interfering with your life and:
- If physical therapy, exercise and chiropractic care isn’t doing the trick
- If you want to avoid taking prescription pain medication on an on-going basis
- If you’d like to try an alternative to surgery
Ask Amy if she thinks therapeutic pain injections are worth it. She’ll tell you, “It’s impacted my family, it’s impacted my coworkers, it’s impacted myself. I mean, every piece of your life is connected to your health and how well you feel and how much pain you’re in or not. So, having some minor pain compared to completely debilitating pain that you cannot get relief from has totally changed my life.”
Jennifer agrees and says if she needs future injections, she’ll go back to CDI. “CDI did a wonderful job. They did a great job. I’ve been pain free for a very long time.”