Is pain keeping you from enjoying life to the fullest? Especially pain in your arms, legs, neck, or back? If so, epidural injections can help you get relief from chronic pain and get you back to living life to the fullest.
Depending on what’s causing your pain, an epidural injection could reduce the inflammation and swelling that’s keeping you from feeling your best.
WHAT IS AN EPIDURAL STEROID INJECTION?
An epidural steroid injection (ESI) delivers pain-relieving anti-inflammatory medicine into a very specific spot near your spinal cord. This spot is called the “epidural space” and is the space between the membrane that protects your spine and your actual spinal cord.
Nerves can become inflamed or pinched in this area, causing pain to your back or other parts of your body. An epidural injection works by targeting the precise location that is causing your pain.
WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR EPIDURALS, AND WHAT DO THEY TREAT?
You could be a candidate for ESI if you suffer from chronic back pain due to compressed nerves and haven’t found relief from more conservative treatments.
If certain spine-related problems are causing you pain, ESI could help alleviate it. Some of these common pain-causing conditions include:
- Spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Lumbar radiculopathy
- Herniated disc
- Bulging disc
- Chronic leg or back pain after back surgery
ESI may not be an effective treatment for you if your pain originates from muscular issues instead of spinal problems. Epidural injections specifically target inflammation and damaged areas around the nerves within your spine. So, if your pain is originating in your muscles or bones, ESI may not be the right treatment option.
HOW DOES AN EPIDURAL INJECTION WORK?
When spinal nerves become pinched, this pressure causes pain to your back and other areas of your body. Many conditions can cause nerve pinching. For instance, nerves in your spine can become compressed from spinal problems like disc herniation.
When you have a herniated disc, the soft jelly-like padding between the bones of your spine becomes displaced and starts to press on your nerves. Pressure on your nerves can also occur from spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spinal canal.
Epidural injections contain steroid medication such as triamcinolone or dexamethasone, which reduce the swelling and inflammation of the damaged area. When swelling and inflammation are decreased, the painful nerves become less compressed, bringing pain relief.
Epidural steroid injections also contain a numbing agent such as lidocaine, which helps reduce any discomfort from the injection placement and provides some immediate pain relief.
ARE EPIDURALS AN ALTERNATIVE TO SURGERY?
Spinal surgery can come with many risks and difficult recovery. Epidural steroid injections aren’t a suitable surgery replacement for everyone, but they could delay or eliminate the need for surgery for some people.
Besides potentially reducing your need for back surgery, epidural injections come with many benefits:
- Quick procedure. It typically takes only 15 to 45 minutes to give you an injection.
- Low risk. The injections are minimally invasive, and there are few risks to getting them.
- Fast results. You’ll usually experience pain relief fairly quickly, though it can take a few days to notice even further results.
- Easy recovery. We’ll monitor you briefly after your injection, but you can walk out fairly soon after your appointment. Most patients get back to regular activity the next day.
- Our goal at OC Wellness Physicians Medical Group is to provide you with various, effective healing modalities to treat your pain without surgery whenever possible. When you schedule a consultation with us, we’ll create an individualized treatment plan that’s right for you.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF EPIDURAL INJECTIONS?
Though ESI comes with minimal risk, some people can experience side effects, such as mild discomfort at the injection site, flushing, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, or headache.
If you have an active infection, extremely high blood pressure, or particular bleeding issues, you may not be able to receive an epidural steroid injection. At OC Wellness Physicians Medical Group, we perform a thorough screening and physical exam to ensure this is the right option for you.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR VISIT
When you come for your ESI injection, you’ll lie on a special table, either on your stomach or your side. The doctor will then clean the area of your back where you’ll receive the injection. Then he or she will insert a needle into your back, using imaging to ensure precise placement.
Once the proper placement is verified, the doctor will inject the medicine containing a steroid and a numbing agent. You may feel some pressure or discomfort during the injection, but it’s typically mild and short-lived.
You can walk and drive after the procedure, and most people resume normal activity by the following day. You can use ice to ease any discomfort around your injection site if needed. We may have you keep a pain diary to track the effectiveness of your pain relief. We’d also like to see you for a follow-up visit to make sure you’re getting the most pain relief possible.
We may recommend other modalities such as physical therapy in addition to ESI if it would benefit you. Some people may need more than one epidural injection for maximum pain relief. Your pain relief may last anywhere from a week up to a year, depending on your situation.
Together we’ll create a treatment plan to get you the most relief possible.
If you’re coping with difficult-to-treat back pain, we’d love to help. OC Wellness Physicians Medical Group can work with you to determine if ESI is a good option for you.
Together, we’ll carve a path to relieving your pain so you can get back to enjoying your life.
Schedule a consultation with our dedicated pain management providers today to see if an epidural injection is right for you.