Spine pain may arise from damage and swelling in the bones, disks, joints and ligaments. The pain is usually caused by complex chemical inflammatory reaction. For example, ruptured L5-S1 disk pinches the sciatic nerve producing leg pain called sciatica. Initial treatment is directed to decrease inflammation through rest, anti-inflammatories and steroid medicine.
Anti-inflammatories and steroid pills provide widespread effects throughout the whole body but only small concentrations reach the painful pinched nerve. In contrast, spinal injections are done under x-ray guidance to delivery steroid and painkillers directly on to the inflamed nerve in very high concentrations. This decreases inflammation and swelling and washes away painful chemicals and irritants to decrease the pain.
Spinal injections usually last from 3 to 12 months. This may give the body time to heal the damage. The pain recurs when the painful structure is aggravated or steroid effect runs out.