Chronic pain is one of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare community today. Too often, people assume they are the only ones suffering from chronic pain; however, statistics from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) show that about one in five adults suffers from chronic pain. This pain often limits at least one major life activity if not more.
An epidural steroid injection is one of the tools that we can use to address chronic pain. This is a minimally-invasive procedure that can lead to immediate and profound pain relief even if other treatment options have failed. There are a few points that you should know about an epidural steroid injection.
What Is an Epidural Steroid Injection?
During an epidural steroid injection, the doctor will inject a medication. This medication is made up of both an anti-inflammatory medication and an anesthetic. This serves two purposes. The anti-inflammatory medication will reduce inflammation and swelling around the nerve root and the anesthetic will halt the pain signals coming from the region being treated. The physician can use an epidural steroid injection to provide someone with long-lasting pain relief. In the future, should this injection wear off, the provider can consider repeating the procedure.
What Conditions Are Treated with an Epidural Steroid Injection?
An epidural steroid injection can treat several conditions. Some of the most common examples include:
- Degenerative Disc Disease: This is a condition in which the discs in the back slowly degrade. This causes the vertebrae to rub against each other, leading to severe pain.
- Sciatica: Sciatica leads to irritation of the sciatic nerve. This is the largest nerve in the body and can impact someone’s mobility.
- Spinal Stenosis: In this condition, the canal through which the spinal cord travels starts to narrow. This leads to nerve inflammation and irritation.
- Herniated Discs: If someone suffers a herniated disc, this leads to shooting, shock-like pains that travel down one or both of the arms or legs. This pain can get better or worse depending on the position.
How Is This Procedure Performed?
Before any procedure is carried out, the doctor will review the risks versus the benefits of the procedure. On the day of an epidural steroid injection, the patient will arrive and lay on the table. The doctor will sterilize the injection area to minimize the risks of an infection developing at the injection site.
The doctor will provide a local anesthetic to numb the injection site and inject the medication into the epidural space. This space is located between the spinal cord and vertebrae where the irritated nerve roots are located.
Finally, the medication will gradually spread to other areas of the spine, providing immediate pain relief. In general, this procedure will take less than 30 minutes to finish.
An epidural steroid injection is an effective treatment option for many types of back pain
Addressing the Side Effects and Risks
An epidural steroid injection is both safe and effective for back and neck pain. There are a few possible risks that patients should note. These include:
- Possible bleeding at the injection site
- The development of a possible infection at the injection site
- A phenomenon called a post-dural puncture headache
While nerve damage is rare, it is possible. Our physicians are highly trained to ensure this does not happen.
The Recovery Process
In addition, with a single epidural steroid injection, patients can experience pain relief that lasts anywhere from a few weeks to an entire year. If the injection wears off, patients can return to their provider for consider of another injection.
It is not always possible but it is generally a good idea for patients to rest the following day after this procedure. Some patients do experience pain around the injection site. Should patients experience this, most patients can take tynelol or ibuprofen and apply ice at the site. However, patients should never take any medications without asking their providers prior to administration. You will need a driver on the day of the injection.
Contact Us Today!
An epidural steroid injection is one of our most effective treatment options. At MidSouth Pain, we tailor our treatment plans to meet your unique individual needs. Contact us today to make an appointment!