FAQs on Disc Injection in Philadelphia

Disc injections are used to treat disorders of the intervertebral discs. Discs serve as cushions between the bony vertebrae that make up the spine. Injections allow patients to avoid surgery, enjoy pain relief, and improve functionality.

What is a disc injection?

A disc injection involves insertion of medication directly into the disc to reduce irritation, inflammation, and pain, as well as help the cells regenerate. Disc injections alleviate pain from various degenerative and traumatic conditions.

What causes degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative discs cause back pain in around 40% of persons older than age 50 years. With age, the discs dry out, shrink, and lose ability to serve as shock absorbers. For younger adults, discs suffer wear-and-tear from trauma, stress, and other factors. Changes in discs can lead to arthritis and spinal stenosis.

What are the various types of disc injections?

  • Corticosteroid injection – This involves injecting a potent, long-acting corticosteroid into the disc to improve mobility and reduce inflammation.
  • Stem cell injections – The injection of concentrated stem cells is used to promote the self-healing abilities of the body. Stem cells replace the weak, degenerated cells, and help improve the growth of existing cells.

How are disc injections administered?

The doctor will first numb the skin and surrounding soft tissues over the affected disc. Using x-ray guidance (fluoroscopy) to insert the needle into the disc. Once placement is verified, medication is instilled. Once the needle is removed a bandage is applied. With stem cell injections, the doctor must obtain bone marrow from the patient’s hip bone and process it in the laboratory. The harvested stem-cell enriched liquid is injected into the disc.

What are the benefits of disc injections?

According to research, disc injections offer better pain control than electro-thermal treatment or surgery. In addition, disc injections are a minimally invasive procedure with no major side effects and few post-operative complications. Stem cells enhance the body’s natural healing effects at low cost.

What can I expect after the disc injection?

After the disc injection, the patient is observed for around 20 minutes. The patient must take it easy for the remainder of the day, and resume regular activities as tolerated. The number of injections a patient needs depends on the patient’s condition.

What side effects are associated with a disc injection?

There are a few short-term side effects associated with disc injections, such as pain at the injection site, skin and tissue soreness, and increased blood sugar. Risks rarely occur, such as bleeding, nerve damage, and injection-site infections.

What is disc regenerative therapy?

Disc regenerative therapy (DRT) is a useful treatment option for chronic back pain related to discs. This procedure involves the injection of glucosamine and dextrose into the center of the disc to stimulate growth of new collagen fibers. DRT takes around 30 minutes. The doctor will cleanse the skin over the affected disc, injection a local anesthetic into the tissues, and injection the solution in the center of the disc.

Are disc injections effective?

According to one study, corticosteroid injections offered considerable back pain relief. Another study fund that this procedure improved pain associated with spinal stenosis and improved standing, walking, and mobility. Stem cell disc injection is useful for prevention of arthritis, degradation of cartilage, and pain relief. In one study where stem cell injection was used for degenerative disc disease, researchers found patients reported greater than 50% pain reduction, with effects persisting for more than one year.

What conditions are treated with disc injections?

Intervertebral disc injections are used to treat:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated disc pain
  • Intervertebral disc injury
  • Disc sprain
  • Inflammation of discs


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Cao P, Jiang L, Zhuang C, Yang Y, et al. (2011). Intradiscal injection therapy for degenerative chronic discogenic low back pain with end plate Modic changes. Spine Journal, 11(2), 100-106. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2010.07.001

Kamei G, Kobayashi T, Ohkawa S, Kongcharoensombat W, et al. (2013). Articular cartilage repair with magnetic mesenchymal stem cells. Am J Sports Medicine.

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Shvartzman L, Weingarten E, Sherry H, et al. (1992). Cost-effectiveness analysis of extended conservative therapy versus surgical intervention in the management of herniated lumbar intervertebral disc. Spine, 17(2), 176-182.