An epidural steroid injection is a minimally invasive procedure that can help to alleviate pain from a number of spinal problems. These steroid injections are generally used in order to decrease pain enough for patients to resume normal activities and to begin physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises. Unlike oral steroids or painkillers, epidural steroid injections directly target the location of your pain and help to reduce inflammation at that spot. By reducing inflammation, this treatment helps to relieve pressure on nerves and nerve roots. Oftentimes, the primary cause of pain is inflammation, so an epidural’s ability to directly target pain-causing inflammation makes it an effective way to get relief.
What is an Epidural?
An epidural is an injection of medication into the epidural space that surrounds the spinal cord. The epidural space is the space just outside of the dural sac, which contains the spinal cord and cerebrospinal fluid.
There are two primary types of epidural injections. Translaminar injections enable medication to spread throughout the entire epidural space; these injections are not root specific. In contrast, transforaminal injections are root-specific injections where medication is injected at nerve roots directly at the site of inflammation.
When to Consider an Epidural for Back Pain
Epidural Steroid Injections can be an effective way to provide pain relief for patients with arm, neck, back, or leg pain. Patients with spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, or chronic back and neck pain are often good candidates for epidural steroid injections. These treatments tend to be more effective for patients with back pain that extends down the leg. This is a particularly ideal procedure for patients in need of some pain relief in order to begin rehabilitation exercises or to return to normal life activities as soon as possible.
What to Expect from an Epidural Injection
Epidural steroid injections are usually done at your doctor’s office or an outpatient center. At Glaser Pain Relief Center, we perform this procedure at a state of the art Medicare certified surgery center in Encino, California. Prior to the injection, a local anesthetic is applied to numb the area. With the guidance of an x-ray fluoroscope, the epidural needle is inserted and guided to the location of the injection. Epidural injection medications generally include a corticosteroid and an anesthetic numbing agent. Sometimes a mild intravenous sedative is used to make the patient more comfortable during the procedure.
After the injection, patients are monitored for a short period, and then allowed to go home. Most patients are able to return to work and normal activities the following day.
Common Results from Epidural Steroid Injections
Most patients that are good candidates for steroid injections experience some relief from these injections. For many, they provide enough relief to enable patients to participate in physical therapy, rehab exercises, and other needed treatments. Pain relief can last anywhere from a few days to a few years but usually lasts about three months. If relief is limited, one to two more injections are possible and are generally given one to four weeks apart.
For many, epidural steroid injections are an effective way to get pain relief in order to increase mobility, return to daily activities, and enable participation in rehabilitation programs. If you are interested in an epidural for back pain or would like to learn more, contact Glaser Pain Relief Center today to schedule a consultation.