standard-title Frequently Asked Questions regarding spine procedures
Q: Will the procedure hurt?
A: Our goal is for every patient to have a relatively painless procedure. Even though we use generous local anesthetic, some procedures may have brief periods of discomfort. If you are feeling more discomfort than you were expecting, please let the Radiologist know so that he/she can use more local anesthetic. We use light sedation for some procedures, such as vertebroplasty, if needed. Most other procedures are short in duration and relatively pain free. In general, we do not use sedation for other procedures except in extreme circumstances since intravenous sedation has a certain inherent risk itself.
Q: How long will the procedure last?
A: Most routine procedures take between 5 to 15 minutes. However, the more complex the procedure the longer it will take. Vertebroplasty for example, is usually completed in 10-30 minutes but the patient stays in the center for about 2 hours.
Q: What do we inject?
A: For most routine procedures such as epidurals we use a combination of local anesthetic with a long acting anti-inflammatory steroid preparation.
Q: Can I work tomorrow?
A: In most cases, yes. However, you may have more specific instructions based on your procedure, diagnosis and the type of work that you do.
Q: When can I resume sports activities?
A: In most cases we recommend holding off on physical therapy and sports activities for 3 days. However, this depends on the injection, whether or not it is the first injection, and what type of activity is performed. Walking is ok as is swimming. Other more vigorous activities too soon may decrease the effectiveness of the medication.
Q: Do I have to lay flat after the procedure?
A: Unless you are given specific other instructions, you are to lie flat only after a lumbar puncture or a myelogram.
Q: How many injections may I have?
A: It depends on the procedure. Epidural injections can be performed safely without significant side effects every 2 months or 6/year. In some cases someone in severe pain may have a “series” which generally means 3 injections spaced as close together as every 2 weeks. They must then wait 4-5 months for another series to keep within the 6/year maximum.
Q: How will the steroids effect me (weight gain, appetite, sleep)?
A: The type of steroids we use are “anti-inflammatory” and are not the type associated with muscle building. There are rare sensitive patients who say they gain weight after steroid injections. This could be from mild water retention or increased appetite. Some sensitive patients may have a little trouble sleeping after oral or injected steroids. If you have a known sensitivity to oral or previous injected steroids, please inform the scheduler, nurse and or physician before the procedure.