What Are MIIPs? / Pinched Nerves and Spinal Injections


Iʼm having leg pain but my doctor is worried about my back. Why?

You might be having pain that goes through your arm to the fingers. You might be having pain in your buttock and down your leg. Why would the problem be coming from your back?

To understand this, we have to talk a little about the spine. The stacked bones of the spine support your body and make it so you can stand up straight, but they also form a hollow tube. Inside this tube are nerves that run between your brain and all the parts of your body.

Every nerve has its own territory to cover. It takes 31 spinal nerves to cover each side of the body.

The nerves travel down neatly arranged paths to all parts of the body. Each nerve has the job of telling the brain what is happening along its path of the body.

If one of these nerves gets pinched inside the spine, you could feel pain or numbness anywhere along the path of the pinched nerve. Thatʼs why it can feel like pain going down the arm or leg.



How does a nerve get pinched?

There is a round, flat connection between most of the stacked bones of the spine. It is called a disc. There are also two small joints just behind each disc. They work together so the spine can bend. As you get older, some of the discs and joints begin to wear down. Parts of them can push out and pinch one of the nerves as it travels down the spine. The nerve can then become swollen and painful.



Do I need surgery for this?

Probably not, but talk to your doctor about it. Most pinched nerves get better on their own. If the pain is severe, or lasts for several weeks, then your doctor may use spinal injections. They can make pinched nerves feel better and they DO NOT need incisions.

You doctor puts a small needle next to the pinched nerve in your back using X-ray or a specialized CT scan and then injects medication.

This medication slowly reduces swelling and takes away pain.

                                                                                             Above: This animation was created by Medical Design Studios and is on loan to the Interventional Initiative.



What can I expect during my injection?

  • You will be treated in a hospital, surgery center or physicianʼs office.

  • A nurse might put monitoring patches on your body to measure your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure.

  • You may have an IV placed in your arm.

  • You will lay on your back, stomach or side, depending on where you need treatment.

  • Medical imaging will show the doctor exactly where the problem is.

  • The skin at the treatment site will be cleaned and numbed with medicine.
  • For some procedures, your doctor may use medication in your IV to help you relax.
  • The procedure is usually quick and will probably take 5-15 minutes.



What can I expect after my injection?

  • Plan to stay in recovery for up to an hour.
  • Your arm or leg may feel numb, heavy or weak for about an hour.
  • You may notice soreness at the injection site.
  • Difficulty sleeping, headache or a temporary increase in your pain can be normal.  Pain relief may take 3 to 5 days before you notice it.



What should I do after my injection?

  • Make sure you have a ride home.
  • Take it easy for the rest of the day, even if you feel good.
  • Avoid heavy exercise and listen to your body. If it hurts, donʼt do it!
  • Make sure you know when your doctor wants to see you back after your injection. 


Spinal Pain is an enormous problem in the U.S.


  • Spinal Pain is the 2nd most common reason for a patient to seek a physician
  • Third most common reason for surgery
  • Third most common reason for hospitalization
  • Billions of dollars spent each year



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