Disc Injection for Degenerative Disc Disease
Injections into the intervertebral disc are performed for degenerative disc disease, which affects millions of Americans. Of those who suffer from degenerative disc disease, over 95% of those are able to successfully avoid surgery with conservative measures such as physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, pain medications, spinal decompression therapy, and interventional pain management treatments.
One of these treatments is intradiscal injections. There is limited research looking at injections done into the disc for degenerative disc disease. One 2004 study in Spine showed that steroid injections administered right into the disc have some effectiveness for relieving back pain due to a degenerated disc.
There are no large-scale studies showing the effectiveness of steroid injections into the disc, so there is significant debate among pain management doctors whether or not to include them in the management of degenerative disc disease, and how often they should be performed. The typical scenario is for an outpatient intradiscal injection to be performed every few months if necessary for the pain emanating from disc degeneration.
For a few years, the treatment known as intra-discal electrothermal treatment, IDET for short, was being performed routinely for the management of degenerative disc disease. This treatment involves delivering heat to the inside part of the degenerative disc space in order to alleviate pain. The results of the procedure were determined to only be fair for reducing back pain due to a disc problem, so most insurance companies will not reimburse for the procedure any more.
Due to the limited array of treatment options available for degenerative disc diesease, some pain management doctors will still include IDET in a pain management regimen for degenerative disc disease with individuals either paying out-of-pocket for it, or there are still a few insurance companies that will reimburse.
Along with steroid injections for disc degeneration stem cell injections are now beginning
to come into play. Stem cell injections are considered regenerative medicine since they have the potential for modifying the disease process by restoring some normal tissue. Steroids on the other hand, provide pain relief but no regeneration.
Arizona Pain Specialists are one of the few clinics in the country to be involved with an FDA clinical trial looking at stem cell injections for treating degenerative disc disease. A limited amount of patients are being enrolled for the study.
Stem Cell injections have the potential to regenerate some of the damaged disc material and may represent the next frontier in pain management treatment. Initial results from a pilot study done by the Australian company Mesoblast were promising enough to commission the full-fledged FDA clinical trial.
If you are suffering from low back pain, it may be due to degenerative disc disease. Approximately 40% of low back pain comes from a degenerative disc that is either bulging or torn. Pain may be situated solely in the lower back, or it may also affect the legs due to nerve root irritation and sciatica.
Arizona Pain Specialists has comprehensive pain management treatment options to help with low back and leg pain due to a degenerative disc problem. The Arizona pain clinics have been able to provide effective nonoperative pain management to over 95% of those with degenerative disc disease to avoid open spine surgery.