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Managing Back Pain with CT Intervention
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for healthcare visits and missed work.
Most back pain will improve within a few weeks by itself, or with conservative treatments such as rest, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and exercise.
If back pain does not respond over a period of six weeks or if the pain has increased over this time, a diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan should be performed to identify structural pathology of the spine, or sooner if there is clear evidence of neural compression.
Periradicular Therapy (PRT), Facet Joint and Sacroiliac Joint Injections are performed under multidetector CT guidance, and offer a conservative alternative for the patient with chronic lower back pain, where other conventional treatment options have failed.
Periradicular Therapy (PRT) or Nerve Root Block
PRT is typically used to alleviate chronic low back pain and/or leg pain.
While the effects tend to be temporary (1 week up to 1 year) it can be very beneficial for patients during an episode of severe back pain.
Importantly, it can provide sufficient pain relief to allow the patient to progress with their rehabilitation program.
PRT is effective in significantly reducing pain for approx 65% of patients.
It works by delivering steroids directly to the painful area to help decrease the inflammation that may be causing the pain.
Facet Joint Injection
Facet joint injections are performed for two reasons: for diagnosis (to determine the source of pain) or for therapy (to treat an abnormality that has been detected).
Problems such as inflammation, irritation, swelling or arthritis in the facet joint may cause low back pain. If diagnostic tests (CT or MRI) show an abnormality in a facet joint, it may be a source of the pain.
PRT and Facet Joint Injections are available at both St George's Radiology and Cashmere Radiology, and booked through the Christchurch Radiology Group call centre on (03) 379 0770.
"It is the role of the physician to determine what is the appropriate level and site of injection and what sort of injection is required, which is determined by the symptoms, clinical findings and diagnostic imaging results."