What Are Epidural Steroids?
Epidural steroid injections offer relief for patients who have lower back pain and leg pain. Inflammation of the nerves roots due to a damaged disc, contact or injury can cause uncomfortable pain in the lower back and legs. This non-surgical method of treatment can be very effective for treating patients with sciatica and lower back pain.
How Do Epidural Steroids Work?
The epidural injection delivers a dose of steroids and anesthetic into the epidural space in the spine. This results in very potent anti-inflammatory action that will provide relief for back and leg pain. It will not cure the underlying cause of the pain but will break the inflammation and pain cycle.
After your injections, you may feel relief in one to three days but sometimes it can take a week to feel the benefits. In general, most people can tolerate the steroid injection very well. Some people may experience more than usual pain that will subside, temporary bruising, flushing of the face for an hour or two, minor anxiety, and trouble sleeping. All of these should disappear in a few days and are not permanent.
Each injection will usually provide two to three weeks of relief. In cases of acute injuries like whiplash, this can be enough time for the body to begin healing itself. With chronic conditions, multiple injections may be needed to provide more long-term relief.
You will lie on your belly during the procedure so the doctor can access your back. The steroids are injected into the epidural layer of the spine in the area that is currently affected by a painful condition. Because of negative pressure in the space around the spine, the medication stays in the area of the injection to provide pain relief.
Steroid injections can be performed at any part of the spine. Common injection points include:
- The cervical spine: Your neck is composed of the top seven vertebrae of your spine.
- The lumbar spine: These vertebrae are associated with lower back and leg pain.
- Transforaminal injections: In some cases, painful symptoms are only experienced on one side. This often involves pain that radiates down one leg or one arm. Injections can be targeted to one side to provide relief.
Conditions Epidural Steroids Can Treat
Epidural injections can be used to treat a wide variety of back and neck pain. Common conditions treated with epidural steroids include:
- Failed back surgery/post-laminectomy syndrome: inadvertent nerve damage or other issues after surgery.
- Cervical radiculopathy: a nerve in the neck area is damaged. It is associated with pain radiating along the arm.
- Lumbar radiculopathy/sciatica: similar to cervical radiculopathy but the damaged nerve is in the lower spine and associated with radiating leg pain.
- Degenerative disc disease: discs in the spine degrade over time. Degeneration can occur in any part of the spine. Pain can spread to other areas.
- Spondylolisthesis: degeneration of the joints between the vertebrae. When it compresses nerve roots, it results in pain.
- Spinal stenosis: the narrowing of the vertebrae causing painful pressure on spinal nerves.
- Whiplash: common type of neck pain that is often the result of a car accident. In some cases, it can lead to chronic pain.
Call Clearway Pain Solutions to schedule a consultation to see if epidural injections are a good option for you. We work to get you back to a pain free life.
Epidural Steroids Recovery
Recovery from an epidural steroid injection is usually quick and uncomplicated. You may experience pain and swelling at the injection site for a day or two after the injection. Applying ice to the site for 15 to 20 minutes at a time can relieve any pain.
Some people may experience reduced sensation in an extremity that was affected by pain. This will usually resolve within around eight hours.