Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Patient Information

  1. Why have I been referred to Conor O'Neill, M.D.?
  2. How do I schedule an appointment?
  3. What type of medication is used for injections?
  4. Are there any risks?
  5. Will the procedure(s) be painful?
  6. What happens before the procedure?
  7. What happens during the procedure?
  8. What happens after the procedure?
  9. What happens when I go home?
  10. What is my follow-up?

1. Q: Why have I been referred to Conor O'Neill, M.D.?

A: Dr. O'Neill specializes in using injections to diagnose and treat spine pain. He can help diagnose the source of your pain by injecting medication in a part of the spine and observing the effect on your symptoms. For example, if your pain subsides after numbing a certain area, this area is probably causing you pain. If Dr. O'Neill knows where your pain has originated, this pain can often be treated by injecting medication or performing other procedures.

2. Q: How do I schedule an appointment?

A: Our scheduling coordinator will call you after they have received the necessary information from your referring physician. In some cases there may be a delay in scheduling related to insurance authorization.

3. Q: What type of medication is used for injections?

A: Most injections combine a mixture of local anesthetic and cortisone. A local anesthetic provides immediate pain relief. Cortisone provides longer term relief by decreasing inflammation, which is the cause of most spine pain problems. The dose of cortisone is small and primarily affects the area injected.

4. Q: Are there any risks?

A: Injection procedures are typically safe. As with any medical procedure, there are potential risks and side effects. Dr. O'Neill will review these with you prior to the procedure.

5. Q: Will the procedure(s) be painful?

A: Dr. O'Neill uses intravenous sedation for most procedures and the majority of patients only experience minor discomfort. For certain diagnostic injections, sedation is not used as the information you provide related to your pain during and after the injection will help Dr. O'Neill determine your medical condition. The discomfort usually lasts a few minutes.

6. Q: What happens before the procedure?

A: Dr. O'Neill will go over your medical history, perform a brief physical exam, and review your MRI and/or CT scan to evaluate your medical condition. He will review the procedure(s) with you and answer any questions you may have.

7. Q: What happens during the procedure?

A: The procedure is done in a sterile procedure room. Surgery center staff administers sedation intravenously. Dr. O'Neill performs the injection procedure using an x-ray machine and contrast dye for needle placement. The procedures usually take 10 or 20 minutes. Afterwards, you proceed to a recovery area for approximately 30 minutes to one hour. You are monitored by a nurse and given something to eat and drink.

8. Q: What happens after the procedure?

A: Most patients receive intravenous sedation with the injection. If you do, you will have some immediate pain relief afterwards. Dr. O'Neill will inquire about how much relief you have had, and may ask you to perform certain maneuvers that were painful prior to the injection.

For patients who do not receive intravenous sedation, primarily those undergoing discography, Dr. O'Neill will give you intravenous pain medications to ensure your comfort after the procedure. Many times after a discography, Dr. O'Neill will ask you to obtain a CT scan to look for tears and other abnormalities in the discs. This is done at an imaging center close to the injection facility, and usually can be done on your way home.

9. Q: What happens when I go home?


  1. Do not drive for at least 12 hours.
  2. Resume a normal diet and medication schedule immediately.
  3. Rest the day of the procedure.
  4. Resume all other activities the following day, including work and physical therapy.
  5. If intravenous sedation is used, you may experience numbness or weakness for a few hours after the procedure. As the intravenous sedation wears off, you may have an increase on your pain.
  6. If you received cortisone in your injection, your pain may start to improve again within 2-3 days, although it may take as long as 10-14 days.
  7. Common side effects from cortisone include flushing, palpitations, insomnia, anxiety, headache, upset stomach, and slight fever with flu-like symptoms.
  8. You may have soreness at the injection site for one or two days. Some patients, especially those having discograms, may have an increase in their usual pain for several days. If this happens, try rest, ice packs, and your regular pain medications. Call us if you have questions after your procedure.

10. Q: What is my follow-up?

A: You should follow-up with your referring physician. Dr. O'Neill may also want to see you in our office for a follow-up. Monitor changes to your pain and how long it lasts after the injections and report them to the physician(s). In some cases, injections provide long-lasting relief. Don't be alarmed if yours doesn't.