Disc space injection

Disc space injection (PP code A5230)

Patients with a damaged disc may have back pain that doesn’t settle with adequate analgesia. In this situation, if the patient is not suitable for surgery, or is too frail to consider surgery, then a disc space injection can be performed. The injection can also be used as a diagnostic procedure, to confirm that the pain is coming from a damaged disc. Following review by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) these techniques are currently under review and are considered experimental at present and form part of our research at present.


The procedure involves injecting a mixture of local anaesthetic, steroid and antibiotic into the damaged disc. This is done under x-ray guidance and takes about 30 minutes. It is carried out as a day case. Most patients take the next day or 2 off, but are able to return quite quickly to normal activity.

The risks of this treatment include:

  • infection
  • bleeding
  • nerve injury
  • pain, numbness
  • weakness, paralysis
  • incontinence, impotence

Most patients will see a response to the injection within hours or days. For some patients this response is sustained as a long-term result. However, many patients require repeat injections and some fail to improve with injection therapy.