What is an Epidural Steroid Injection?
An epidural steroid injection is a procedure used to treat back, neck, arm, and leg pain. From day to day, patients primarily feel pain and discomfort as a result of inflammation of the spinal nerve root. An injection of pain medicine into the epidural space within the spinal canal can help alleviate this pain.
To be more specific, an epidural injection can provide relief for patients dealing with:
- Inflamed spinal nerves (radicular pain)
- Degenerative disk disease
- Herniated disks
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Other chronic low back pain conditions
Epidural Steroid Injection Procedure
The epidural space is the area that sits between the vertebra and the spinal sac. This fat-filled area is targeted with steroids, often in combination with an anesthetic depending on your doctor.
To prepare for an epidural steroid injection for pain management, the patient will begin by lying down. The injection site is cleansed and then numbed with a local anesthetic. The patient must remain awake; however, a low dose of sedative may be administered as a calming agent if needed.
With x-ray guidance, the physician will direct a needle into the epidural space, just outside of the spinal cord. A contrast dye will be injected to ensure placement is correct. The targeted area will then be injected with the steroid mixture. A lumbar epidural steroid injection is one of the most popular, as the lumbar spine (vertebrae L1 to L5) is commonly afflicted.
What is the benefit of epidural injections?
The injection of steroid medication and anesthetic will work in combination to minimize inflammation of, and to decrease pain in, the spinal nerve roots. As a result, patients will experience lesser to no pain in their problem area (back, neck, etc.).
The effects of epidural injections can last anywhere from weeks to years. Patients who attend physical therapy in conjunction with this treatment and actively work to build muscle and improve the state of their body may achieve longer-lasting results.
Procedure Details and Recovery Time
The average injection procedure takes just 30 minutes. This will vary according to the number of injections needed and the in-office recovery period mandated by the physician. Once cleared, most patients will be able to leave and continue their day as normal. It is recommended that no strenuous activity be done for at least one days time.
Patients may experience side effects like soreness at the injection site, trouble sleeping, hot flashes, and water retention. Serious complications of epidural corticosteroid injections are rare, but potential risks may include infection, dural puncture, nerve damage, or allergic reaction.
Note: Southside Pain Specialists is a referral-only pain clinic. To schedule an appointment, you must first obtain a physician referral. Make sure to discuss all current medications with your healthcare provider before pursuing treatment.
For Chronic Pain Relief, Ask About Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections Today
The pain management specialists here at Southside Pain Specialists have dedicated their careers to helping others discover relief from chronic back pain, muscle pain, and inflammation.
To learn more about lumbar epidural injections and other chronic pain management solutions, schedule a consultation with our Birmingham pain clinic. Contact us online or by phone at (205) 900-3927.