How Long Do Neck Injections Provide Pain Relief?

Neck pain is an extremely common condition that can significantly impact daily activities and quality of life. While there are many potential causes of neck pain, some of the most common include muscle strains, arthritis, herniated discs, pinched nerves, and whiplash injuries. When conservative treatments like rest, ice, heat, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy do not provide adequate relief, injections may be considered. Neck injections deliver medication directly to the source of pain and inflammation. There are several types of injections that can be effective for neck pain relief.

Cervical Epidural Steroid Injections

Cervical epidural steroid injections are one of the most common neck injections used to reduce inflammation and pain. They deliver a corticosteroid medication into the epidural space around the spinal cord. The anti-inflammatory properties of the steroid can decrease swelling and pressure on nerves, providing pain relief. Most patients obtain partial to complete pain relief within 2-5 days after the injection. However, the duration of pain relief can vary significantly. Some studies have found that over 50% of patients achieve pain relief for over 6 months. However, the pain relief may only last a few weeks or months in some individuals before needing to repeat the injection. On average, the pain relief from a single cervical epidural injection lasts around 4-6 months.

Facet Joint Injections

The facet joints in the neck allow flexibility and movement. Arthritis and injury can cause these joints to become painfully inflamed. Facet joint injections deliver an anesthetic and steroid directly into one or more of these spinal joints. Most patients experience significant pain relief within a few hours, and the benefits typically last for 1-3 months. Repeating facet joint injections may extend the duration of pain relief.

Trigger Point Injections

Trigger points are tight knots in muscle tissue that cause localized pain when pressed. Injecting these trigger points with an anesthetic and steroid can relax the muscle and provide rapid pain relief that starts working in minutes. However, the benefits of a single injection generally only last for 7-10 days. Repeated trigger point injections may provide longer lasting relief.

Nerve Root Blocks

A pinched or inflamed nerve root in the neck can cause radiating pain, numbness, and weakness in the shoulder, arm and hand. Delivering anesthetic medication around an irritated nerve root can help reduce inflammation and pain for several months. This may allow time for the nerve to heal. The duration of pain relief is highly variable from weeks to a year or longer.

The longevity of neck injection pain relief depends on many factors including the underlying cause, number of injections, medication used, and each individual’s response. Most patients can expect at least partial pain relief for 1-6 months from a single injection. Repeating injections when the benefits start to wear off can prolong the duration of pain relief. However, injections are not a cure and should be used along with other therapies to provide comprehensive neck pain management.